OAKLAWN, IL -- Hometown Suburban Vending Inc. says news headlines claiming that a Joliet Junior college student and two school employees are suing the company for damages after finding cockroaches in coffee vended from its machines are unfounded.
According to news reports, JJC student Bobbi Smith and employees Gary Broyles and Richard Anderson said they found cockroaches in their vended coffee in the summer of 2012 and are suing Hometown Suburban Vending for allowing the infestation. The three alleged victims are seeking $50,000 each, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Officials at the Oaklawn, IL, vending company said there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation. They said they are investigating to determine the source of the published reports. The plaintiffs are represented by Bolingbrook attorney Bart Durham. The case is scheduled for a first appearance before a judge July 22.
Vending veteran Tom Britten of Britten Management Services LLC (Zephyrhills, FL) expressed indignation over the damaging effects such allegations are likely to have on his industry peer. He emphasized that pest infestations can be an unfortunate reality in vending in locations that fail to maintain sanitary surroundings, in which cases the burden should not fall on the operator.
"This allegation has caused irreparable damage to a company that is well respected in the industry," Britten told Vending Times. "Please understand how hard people in this business work to enhance and preserve their reputations; this news released via the open public media is devastating. Standard industry practice is that the client -- location owner -- is responsible for extermination services and pest control. When the client fails to do this and/or fail to clean and empty adjoining trash cans, vermin can and do invade vending machines despite the best efforts of the operator to keep them out."