Federal lawsuit filed against Layton City in Subway officer 'drugging' case

Wednesday , August 09, 2017 - 3:15 PM3 comments

NADIA PFLAUM, Standard-Examiner Staff

SALT LAKE CITY —  A year after the explosive story of a Layton police officer’s poisoning at a sandwich shop led in local news broadcasts, the owners of the Layton Subway Restaurant filed a lawsuit against Layton City in federal court. 

The owners of the Layton Subway at 1148 East Highway 193, Dallas Buttars and Kristin Myers, say they lost business and several employees quit after the police publicized claims of the poisoning on Aug. 8, 2016, which turned out to be false.

Buttars claimed at a press conference Wednesday that Layton police “knew the incident was false” but continued to investigate the case.

Robert Sykes, the attorney representing Buttars and Myers, claimed during the press conference the case is a “constitutional defamation case,” meaning the lawsuit claims a government organization made or implied false statements. 

Sykes claimed the restaurant suffered harm due the investigation, saying that the store saw a loss in business and a number of employees quit following the incident. 

Also named as a defendant in the suit is Layton Police Sgt. Clint Bobrowski, the department’s public information officer. 

According to the lawsuit, a Layton police officer, whose identity has never been released by Layton City, stopped for lunch on Aug. 8, 2016, at the drive-through of the Subway restaurant on 1148 East Highway 193. He ordered a Spicy Italian sandwich, an oatmeal cookie, Cheetos and a pomegranate lemonade. Receiving his food, he drove a few miles, then pulled over to eat. 

The officer reported feeling suddenly “dizzy, hyper-vigilant, disconnected” with pain in his chest and stomach and numbness in his legs. 

RELATED: Layton Subway officer ‘drugging’ case: Anatomy of the investigation

The symptoms reported by the officer touched off an investigation later in the day involving drug-sniffing dogs, sample collections of all drink liquids and materials, a physical search of the restaurant, interviews of all employees and collection of the store’s surveillance video.

The next day, the plaintiffs were informed by a Layton police detective that all tests on the alleged poisoning victim and on the materials sampled from the restaurant came out negative for any drugs. However, news organizations were still reporting that the poisoning had occurred, and the plaintiffs were told that the investigation was still “ongoing” more than two months later, the lawsuit said.

Layton City “failed to correct” the false reports of the drink-spiking “despite having had multiple reasons and opportunities to do so,” according to the lawsuit.

Police officially announced the state crime lab’s negative results for drugs in the case on October 11, 2016. The 18-year-old employee of the Subway who was arrested and accused of poisoning the officer’s lemonade was exonerated that day, as well.

Buttars and Myers said in the suit that within a day of the news stories, their store experienced a 30 percent drop in sales, and reduced sales continued for weeks. The store lost valued customers, they said, including a private school that had for years ordered sandwiches from Subway for its school lunch program.

The Subway owners are seeking a public apology from the city and Bobrowski, and punitive damages to be determined through litigation.

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