Crime and Justice

Vermont man sues Arizona Beverages, claiming rodent’s tail was in his canned iced tea

A Vermont man says he found a rat tail in this can of Arizona Beverages Arnold Palmer iced tea.

A Vermont man who bought a can of Arizona Beverages Arnold Palmer iced tea says he opened the can, took a drink, and realized he had a rodent’s tail in his mouth. 

Now, he’s suing.

“After feeling the rodent’s tail in his mouth and seeing what it was, plaintiff Rudy Gallo became sick and began vomiting,” says the lawsuit filed recently in federal court in Vermont. “Plaintiff continued vomiting and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Plaintiff has continued to suffer physical, mental and emotional trauma as a result of drinking the beverage with a rodent sealed inside.”

The lawsuit brought by Gallo, a Barre resident, names New York-based Arizona Beverages and Maplewood Beverage Packers of New Jersey as defendants. 

The lawsuit says it was Nov. 3, 2017, when Gallo bought the Arizona ice brand Arnold Palmer beverage in a sealed aluminum can from a store in Barre. While later driving through Franklin County, he opened the can, took a long drink, and discovered the rodent’s tail, the lawsuit says.

“Plaintiff Rudy Gallo faced physical peril from the defendants’ negligent acts and/or omissions and was physically impacted by the rodent’s tail,” the lawsuit says. 

When the parties were unable to reach a settlement, a lawsuit was filed, alleging negligence, before the three-year statute of limitations for such a claim would have expired. 

Kaveh Shahi, an attorney in Rutland, filed an answer to the lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of Arizona Beverages and Maplewood Beverage Packers.

In that filing, in response to the portion of the lawsuit that describes Gallo drinking from the can and finding the rodent’s tail, Shahi wrote, “Denied for lack of information.” 

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Also, the filing listed several affirmative defenses to the lawsuit, including, “Contributory negligence” and “To the extent applicable, failure to properly preserve evidence.” 

Shahi could not immediately be reached Wednesday for comment. 

According to Jerry O’Neill, a Burlington lawyer representing the Gallos as local counsel in the case, the incident has affected Rudy Gallo’s ability to work and his relationships with other people.

According to O’Neill, Gallo has had difficulty sleeping, eating or drinking, all leading to weight loss, and has had nightmares and flashbacks about what happened.

The lawsuit also names Gallo’s wife, Deborah Gallo, as a plaintiff, due to the loss of consortium. 

It’s not the first time a lawsuit has been brought against Arizona Beverage in connection with a claim that a rodent was found in a can. In 2018, Northjersey.com reported that Samantha Corrado of New Jersey brought a case against the iced tea maker after she alleged she suffered injuries and emotional distress after finding a dead rodent inside her iced tea. 

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Alan J. Keays

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