Dead woman’s parents sue coffee shop over nut-related death

Family claims defendant may have "concealed evidence" that could explain why Efrat was served a dessert with nuts.

Nuts (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The parents of Chen Efrat, the 26-year-old woman who died from an an allergic reaction to a nut spread she was served in a Tel Aviv coffee shop, filed a NIS 5.5 million lawsuit in the Tel Aviv District Court Thursday against the La Goffre Cafe on Rehov Ibn Gavirol.
Two weeks ago, Chen had dined at La Goffre with friends. The young woman ordered Belgian waffles, after explaining to the waitress that she was allergic to nuts and wanted a dessert with nut-free chocolate.
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According to the lawsuit, submitted by Attorney Ilan Kaner on behalf of Chen’s parents, Chen later told the waitress to check whether she had inadvertently served her waffles with Nutella spread, which contains hazlenuts, instead of “Shahar” brand chocolate.
“The waitress denied it, and claimed that the chocolate was Shahar brand chocolate,” the lawsuit reads. However, Chen’s dessert did contain the hazlenut spread.
After eating the dessert, Chen suffered a severe allergic reaction and was rushed to the hospital after extensive resuscitation efforts by Magen David Adom paramedics.
Despite treatments to stabilize her condition, Efrat’s condition deteriorated rapidly. She passed away a week ago.
According to the lawsuit, Chen’s parents, Malka and Yuval Efrat, are seeking to understand the circumstances of the error that cost their daughter’s life.
“The plaintiffs know that the deceased ordered Belgian waffles with nut-free chocolate, and that she received, by mistake, a dessert with nuts – but they do not know the circumstances of that error. Did the waitress make a mistake in the order she gave to the kitchen? Did the chef make a mistake?” the suit asks.
In their lawsuit, the Efrats claim that La Goffre was negligent for a number of reasons, including failing to properly inform diners about the dishes they served, failing to establish appropriate communication channels between waitstaff and kitchen staff and failing to train staff to deal with special food requests from diners.
The plaintiffs also accuse La Goffre of possibly destroying or removing evidence. According to the suit, after the event that led to Chen’s death “it became clear that one of the defendants, or someone connected to them, took care to conceal evidence that might have shed light on the causes of the error.”
It is also alleged that an undercover investigation carried out after the event revealed that the coffee shop had an around-the-clock closed-circuit- camera system. However, the video tapes for the past month are missing, the suit claims.
The suit states that Chen had been living in Tel Aviv, but last year returned to her hometown of Eilat to help care for her parents.
Her mother has cancer and her father suffers from heart problems.

Judy Siegel contributed to this report.