The campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks is seen from the air on Sept. 20, 2022. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Former UAF student sues school, alleging injuries from hot sauce

Woman seeking more than $100,000 from incident in culinary arts class.

A former University of Alaska Fairbanks student is suing the university, alleging she was injured during a culinary arts class in 2022.

Ariel Lamp, who left the university after the incident, filed suit July 14 in Fairbanks Superior Court. The suit requests more than $100,000 in damages, plus costs.

Lawsuits against the university are relatively rare; online court records show it listed as a defendant only 13 times since 1988.

Through her attorney, Jeff Barber of Anchorage, Lamp declined an interview request.

According to the complaint, a UAF professor invited students to consume three spoonfuls of “Da Bomb” hot sauce directly. The lawsuit did not name the professor or class.

Da Bomb sauces, manufactured in Kansas City, are among the spiciest commercially available products on the market, with some variants approaching the heat of pepper spray.

Reviewers, and the company’s own instructions, say the sauce should be diluted before use. Without dilution, it’s frequently painful to consume, so much so that its use in a YouTube series called “Hot Ones” — in which celebrities are interviewed while eating hot wings — has become notorious.

According to the complaint, Lamp suffered months of abdominal pain and discomfort after eating the hot sauces, sought medical treatment and left UAF because of her continued pain.

The complaint says she “suffered severe, permanent physical injury from consuming the hot sauce at UAF” or that it may have exacerbated a pre-existing condition.

Lamp altered her diet and is continuing to take medicine but is still experiencing symptoms, the complaint said, and one doctor “discussed removing her gall bladder.”

The lawsuit alleges that by failing to follow warning labels on the bottle, “UAF’s teacher … negligently encouraged the students in the class to consume Da Bomb hot sauce when he knew or should have known that the product was not safe for everyone to consume,” thus making the university liable for the harm that ensued.

Marmian Grimes, the university’s public information office, said it has received a copy of the complaint and is reviewing it, but she declined to comment, citing the university’s policy of not speaking about ongoing litigation.

• James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. This article originally appeared online at Alaska Beacon, an affiliate of States Newsroom, is an independent, nonpartisan news organization focused on connecting Alaskans to their state government.

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