A New Jersey man was told he can’t sue Applebee’s for burns sustained while bowing his head in prayer over a sizzling hot plate of steak fajitas. The man took the case to court, claiming that the waitress neglected to tell him the entree was hot, which resulted in burns to his face. However, an appeals court has ruled that the man cannot sue Applebee’s, as the fajita skillet posed an ” ‘open and obvious’ danger.”
A New Jersey man, referred to as Hiram Jimenez in court documents, sought to sue Applebee’s after he burned his face while praying over his steak fajita skillet. Court documents outline the details of Jimenez’s ordeal at a Westampton, New Jersey, Applebee’s location. Jimenez claims that he ordered a steak fajita dish from the Applebee’s menu. When the waitress brought the dish to the table, it was noted that the plate was “real hot” and sizzling. However, the waitress simply said, “enjoy your meal.” Therefore, Jimenez reached over to his friend, Rafael, who was eating with him and said “let’s have prayer.”
Jimenez then bowed his head “close to the table” for the prayer. At this point, a loud, sizzling noise was heard, followed by a pop. He then claims to have felt a “burning sensation in his left eye and on his face.” In a fit of panic, Jimenez then knocked his plate onto his lap and his prescription glasses dropped to the floor from his face. Jimenez says further injury occurred when he “pulled” something in his right arm while trying to remove the hot food from his lap. He then proceeded to “bang” his elbow on the table. All in all, the meal was quite the disaster. Jimenez filed an incident report with the Applebee’s manager and later filed a complaint in trial court. The complaint alleges that Applebee’s presented dangerous and hazardous conditions in their restaurant by offering “a plate of hot food.”
“Plaintiff thereafter filed a complaint in the trial court against defendants, alleging that defendants owned, possessed, controlled, managed, operated or supervised Applebee’s. Plaintiff alleged that, on March 4, 2010, while a business invitee at Applebee’s, he was injured solely as a result of defendants’ negligence when he came in contact with a dangerous and hazardous condition, specifically, ‘a plate of hot food.'”
Fortunately for Applebee’s, the Daily Mail reports New Jersey appeals courts have ruled that Jimenez can’t sue the restaurant, as the fajita skillet posed an “open and obvious” danger. Jimenez endangered himself by bowing his head close to the obviously sizzling, hot plate. The plate should have been approached with “due care,” and the waitress had no obligation to point out the obvious to Jimenez.
“Here, the danger posed by a plate of sizzling hot food was self-evident. Therefore, we conclude that the motion judge correctly determined that defendants had no duty to warn plaintiff that the food was sizzling hot and should be approached with due care.”
What do you think about the customer trying to sue Applebee’s for his own negligence when dealing with a hot plate of food? Does it surprise you?