Cynthia Terry, Contributor
Augsburg has filed a lawsuit against A’viands, the campus dining provider, in response to a fire that occurred in 2017. The lawsuit, filed on 30 August, 2019, alleges that A’viands’ negligence led to property damage and a breach of contract. The case began in Minnesota state court but has since moved to federal court due to the $1.33 million that Augsburg is suing for. This amount would cover damages, lawyers’ fees and interest.
In 2008, Augsburg and A’viands entered into a contract in which A’viands was required to run the Dining Services Program which included, but was not limited to: food purchase and production, quality control, hiring, training, dismissal and the financial management of the dining service program. Augsburg was required under the contract to make facilities, including a washer and dryer, available to A’viands, while A’viands was required to manage the laundry.
On January 27th, 2017, a fire tore through the dining hall. Augsburg alleged that an A’viands employee used rags to wipe up oils. The employee then washed the rags in the on-site washing machine and placed them in the dryer. The heat of the dryer allegedly caused the oils on the rags to catch fire. By the time the fire was controlled, it had caused property damage of approximately $1.33 million.
Augsburg has charged that A’viands, under the contract, had a duty to “perform work in a safe, skillful, workmanlike, prudent and proper manner and in accordance with all applicable ordinances, statutes, regulations, industry standards of care as reasonably expected of food service operators and to care for the safety and protection of property.” Augsburg alleged in the lawsuit that A’viands breached its duties by engaging in acts that constitute gross negligence. Augsburg further argued that this negligence shows reckless disregard as to whether injury to property would occur and willfully endangered the public and Augsburg property. Finally, the lawsuit charged that A’viands failed to properly train and warn employees about how to properly handle oil and clean rags in a safe manner.
A’viands has denied the claims against them and has asked the court for a dismissal. The case will be heard in the Hennepin Fourth Judicial District Court.
This article was originally published in the September 20, 2019 issue.