Judge drops Subway lawsuit over Layton Police officer’s alleged poisoning
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has dismissed a defamation case against Layton City that stemmed from the 2016 arrest of a Subway worker accused of poisoning a police officer.
Utah District Court Judge Dee Benson on Thursday, March 16, accepted the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the owners of the Layton sandwich shop.
The owners of the Subway, Dallas Buttars and Kristin Myers, said in an Aug. 9, 2017, press conference that the restaurant had several employees quit and saw a decline in business after police publicized the reported poisoning, which police later said they could not prove.
At the press conference, Buttars claimed Layton police “knew the incident was false” but continued to investigate the case. The lawsuit was filed in federal court the same day, online court records show.
The motion to dismiss was first submitted to the court by Layton City on Sept. 23, 2017. The motion contends that Buttars and Myers did not establish a claim for defamation.
Benson agreed with the city and said in his March 15 decision there was “no plausible claim for a constitutional violation of the Subway store owners.”
Buttars and Myers “failed to sufficiently allege that a policy, practice or custom of the municipality was the moving force behind the alleged constitutional violations of the officers,” Benson wrote.
A day after the defamation lawsuit was filed, Layton City announced it paid a $50,000 settlement to the family of Subway employee Tanis Ukena.
The officer reported being “dizzy, hyper-vigilant, disconnected” with pain in his chest and stomach and numbness in his legs after eating his meal from the restaurant.
Ukena, 18 at the time, was jailed on the day of the investigation, which brought drug-sniffing dogs and a heavy police presence to the restaurant.
Police said initial tests indicated the presence of narcotics in the lemonade that Ukena served to the officer through the drive-thru window. State crime lab tests completed weeks later showed the lemonade samples contained no narcotic contamination.
Ukena was never charged with a crime.