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Tampa woman’s suit claims Don CeSar waiter served her liquid nitrogen

Stacey Wagers contends she was injured while dining at the Maritana Grille last year.
A dinner guest at the Maritana Grille at the Don Cesar Hotel contends in a lawsuit filed Friday that she was seriously injured when a waiter poured some of the liquid nitrogen that he was using to prepare a dessert at an adjacent table into her water glass and she drank it. (Times file photo)

ST. PETERSBURG — A Tampa woman says she was seriously injured last year when a waiter at the Don Cesar Hotel poured liquid nitrogen into her water glass last year and she drank it, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

Stacey Wagers, 45, contends in the suit that she was at the hotel’s Maritana Grille for a birthday dinner with a friend on Nov. 11, 2018 when she was hurt.

Wagers and her dinner companion had finished eating when they saw a waiter prepare a dessert at a nearby table and pour a liquid on the dessert that made it “smoke,” according to the suit, which was filed by Morgan & Morgan attorney Adam Brum and which contends that the hotel was negligent.

That’s cool, said Wagers’ companion, according to the suit. The waiter poured some of the liquid into their water glasses, and they drank. Within seconds, the suit said, Wagers “became ill and was permanently injured by what is now believed to have been liquid nitrogen.”

Stacey Wagers of Tampa sued the Don CeSar Hotel alleging she was seriously hurt after a waiter at the Maritana Grille poured what is believed to be liquid nitrogen into her water glass and she drank it. (Photo via Adam Brum, Morgan & Morgan) [Adam Brum, Morgan & Morgan]

“She was unaware of what it was, thought it was safe, obviously, seeing it put on other people’s desserts," Brum said in an interview.

The suit seeks more than $15,000 in damages from Host Hotels & Resorts, which is based in Bethesda, Md., the Don CeSar Hotel and Carlos Cepero, identified as the director of food and beverage for all the restaurants at the Don CeSar.

Don CeSar Hotel acting general manager Thomas Fraher said in a statement Friday afternoon that “we cannot comment on pending litigation.”

Wagers’ dinner companion did not suffer any ill effects, Brum said. But he said Wagers suffered chest pains and went to a hospital emergency room where she was diagnosed with a perforated gastric ulcer. Her treatment included having damaged tissue removed from the lining of her stomach and having her gall bladder removed, which is expected to cause her ongoing problems with sore throats, digesting certain kinds of foods and bloating. She lost 23 pounds in the aftermath of the incident, he said.

Wagers is married to University of South Florida Bulls men’s basketball assistant coach Scott Wagers. She works providing pharmaceutical and nursing consulting, Brum said.

“The Don Cesar is a world-famous hotel, where guests expect to have a safe and enjoyable experience, but Stacey Wagers’ birthday dinner there turned into a nightmare,” he said. “As a young woman and mother, she will possibly experience pain and discomfort for the rest of her life. We believe this was entirely preventable had the restaurant not acted recklessly, and we will fight to hold them accountable and make sure it never happens to another guest.”

Contact Richard Danielson at Follow @Danielson_Times