New Jersey women file class action lawsuit over TGI Friday’s liquor scam

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by Heygood Orr and Pearson

Two New Jersey women have filed a class action lawsuit against the restaurant chain TGI Friday’s, alleging that the company’s New Jersey franchises routinely served lower-quality liquors to customers who had ordered top-shelf brands. Information about these practices came to light recently as a result of a year-long investigation conducted by New Jersey officials in bars and restaurants across the state.

Known as “Operation Swill,” the investigation by the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control found that 29 TGI Friday’s restaurants across the state were substituting cheaper booze for high quality liquor. Inspectors found that in some cases, restaurant patrons were served rubbing alcohol instead of scotch, or dirty dish water that was poured into an empty bottle and passed off as liquor.

The class action lawsuit against TGI Friday’s was filed by plaintiffs Kristi Pasieka and Nicole E. Ruglio, who became suspicious after noticing a funny taste in drinks that they ordered from a Friday’s in Hamilton, NJ. After learning about the state investigation against the restaurant chain, the two women contacted an attorney about filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of all patrons who had purchased drinks from Friday’s that were not served as ordered.

New Jersey state officials say that they are currently testing about 1,000 bottles of alcohol that were collected from the 29 TGI Fridays restaurants that were targeted in the investigation. If the investigation reveals that any of the restaurants violated New Jersey law, they may face the possibility of having their liquor licenses suspended or revoked by the state.