Woman bitten by copperhead inside restaurant still suffering 5 years later, files lawsuit
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/Gray News) – A woman who was bitten by a copperhead as she walked into a restaurant in Virginia five years ago is still enduring crippling pain.
Rachel Myrick was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), according to WWBT.
CRPS is an uncommon and severely disabling disorder that can happen after an injury to a limb or other trauma to the body.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, nerve function becomes abnormal, causing a drastic over-sensitivity to pain. Basically, your nervous system can’t shut off its pain signal.
“I have more than 75 percent of my body that is in so much pain; that it’s almost impossible to describe. You feel like you’re burning from deep inside your bones,” she said of the disorder that now has spread throughout most of her body.
Myrick often needs help showering and getting dressed. Even a breeze on her skin can be painful.
In September of 2017, Myrick and her family walked into the LongHorn Steakhouse. Within moments, the fast-paced, mom-of-two would never have the same momentum again.
“I felt like I had been stung on my foot, whether it was a wasp or bee,” she recalled.
But it wasn’t a bee; it was an 8-inch copperhead baby snake that slithered into the restaurant, biting her left foot three times.
“I had put my hand around my foot because, at this point, it was an absolute unbearable pain,” Myrick said. “That was pretty much the moment everything changed.”
Within about 20 minutes of the snake bike, Myrick was admitted to the hospital and ultimately given four vials of anti-venom.
Her foot and entire leg swelled multiple times larger than normal size, turning purple and grey.
Doctors told Myrick she should be back to normal in a few months, but the aching and constant discoloration only persisted.
Years after the incident, the woman who once hiked mountains and ran marathons, can now hardly maneuver her way out of a car without crushing discomfort and can’t even hug her children.
“I can hug them. They can’t hug me,” she said, explaining she can only lightly hold her arms around her children, pretending to hug them.
Myrick has seen dozens of doctors and tried many treatments, including heavy-duty pain pills like morphine. She also had two spinal cord stimulators surgically implanted. Her medical bills now total over $1 million.
Myrick filed a lawsuit against the parent company of Longhorn Steakhouse, Rare Hospitality International, and the restaurant manager at the time for $25 million.
The lawsuit claims snakes were spotted in the restaurant in three places: storage areas for produce and high chairs and a loading area.
Court documents also say the restaurant didn’t take up the exterminator on a “one-shot pest elimination service.”
Myrick’s attorneys further argue that Virginia’s food regulation laws require pests to be controlled or minimized.
In court filings, attorneys for LongHorn Steakhouse argue a party can’t be held liable for a wild animal attack in Virginia.
A judge or jury, however, may ultimately have to decide if there’s a difference between a wild animal and what would be considered a pest, like a bee, a rat or a snake.
Longhorn Steakhouse attorneys also point to a lack of detail about the alleged snake sightings.
They also say even if snakes were lurking near the restaurant - which they deny - destroying the nest would be illegal since snakes are not considered nuisance animals.
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