CO Leak Sends 7 Panera Bread Workers in LI to Hospital
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Carbon Monoxide Leak Sends 7 Panera Bread Workers in LI to Hospital

Hospital emergencyA carbon monoxide leak from a next-door construction site sent seven employees at a Long Island Panera Bread to the hospital on the morning of Wednesday, March 2.  The restaurant, located on Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station, initially evacuated 10 of its workers after receiving a call about a possible leak. When seven of those workers reported that they were not feeling well, they were taken in to the hospital for immediate observation and treatment.

Authorities say that the leak came from the construction site next door and that the carbon monoxide fumes had entered the restaurant through a vent.  Firefighters who were called in to investigate found that a piece of machinery emitting carbon monoxide exhaust at the next-door site was the culprit.

The seven employees left by ambulance at about 8 am, prior to the restaurant’s opening to the public.  They were treated at Huntington Hospital and released, according to Alexandrian Zendrian, a hospital spokesperson.  The restaurant reopened later that morning. A spokesperson for Panera Bread had positive words to say about the response of the Huntington police and firefighters.

Construction companies could be fined for safety violations

Shawmut Construction, the general contractor for the renovation of the unit next to Panera Bread, and Black Hawk Industries, a subcontractor, each received a summons from the town “for creating a dangerous and unsafe condition,” according to Huntington Town spokesperson A.J. Carter.  The parties are to appear before the judge at the Suffolk County district court next month.  Violators could be fined between $500 and $2,000. Neither company commented on its summons.

The construction site adjacent to Panera Bread was previously a Legal Seafood Restaurant where a carbon monoxide leak killed one and poisoned 29 others in 2014.  That leak was unrelated to this incident.

The toxic gas leak at Legal Sea Foods killed Steven Nelson, 55, a manager of the restaurant. Legal Sea Foods did not have a carbon monoxide detector and the tragedy prompted the creation of a new safety law under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that required restaurants to have such detectors.

Liability issues related to carbon monoxide poisoning

In addition to municipal fines, the two companies summoned to district court could also be vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits if it is found that their negligence led to injury for those exposed to the carbon monoxide fumes.  Thus far, the Panera Bread employees seem to have escaped serious injury.  However, carbon monoxide exposure can lead to brain damage or death in more extreme cases.

Third parties, including construction companies, whose negligence in handling equipment or whose failure to properly monitor their work places for carbon monoxide may be held liable for damages.  Such damages include medical expenses, emotional suffering, loss of income or earning potential, wrongful death, and other types of recompense.

When bodily harm results from the negligence of property owners or other third parties, victims may have the right to sue for compensation. The Sanders Firm are leading personal injury lawyers in New York. To discuss your case, please call our firm to arrange a no-cost/no-obligation consultation. Call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to explore your legal options.


  1. NBC New York, 7 Hospitalized After Carbon Monoxide Seeps Into Long Island Panera Bread: Officials http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Huntington-Station-Long-Island-Panera-Bread-Carbon-Monoxide-NY-370805411.html

  2. Newsday, Panera Bread Workers Sickened by Carbon Monoxide, Cops Say http://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/panera-bread-workers-sickened-by-carbon-monoxide-cops-say-1.11529863