Teatime at the Plaza Hotel in New York City is a uniquely fancy experience. But visits by the hoi polloi, including society matrons and other high falutin’ ladies who lunch, do not guarantee that your smartly plated food will not be contaminated.
In the incident reported to us by an EOLIS executive, it was luscious strawberries and cream cheese, or maybe just plain strawberries that were the culprit; an insect contently nestled under a strawberry, much to the diner’s dismay. The tearoom’s maitre d’ went on the defensive instantly, questioning the guest’s first-hand knowledge of the creeping insect that suddenly sped off to a low flying cloud as the diner and a server watched in disbelief.
The cleanliness of the establishment is not necessarily defined by the prices on the menu, and consumers are routinely at risk for falling ill. Rarely considered, but ever present, are the real perils for New Yorkers who dine out, whether it be at a neighborhood bistro or an upscale and refined tearoom. While the legal issues that may come into play in your next restaurant visit may be about negligence, food poisoning is but one potential problem diners can face when they go out to eat. Lost coats, beverage spills, and personal injuries can trigger disputes, too.
The more rampant issue that spurs lawsuits, however, is inconsiderateness, arrogance, and an utter disregard of the kitchen and the front of the house towards diners who are put at risk. From a lay person’s perspective, the Plaza’s conduct in the instance reported to us is reflective of a company running scared when good manners are their best defense against litigation. So for all of those restaurants that would prefer to bully the patron as to their credibility, our office will be happy to assist them in the retention of tort counsel. One way or another, the negligent restaurant will likely prove itself penny-wise and pound- foolish in just adding the insect to the offended customer’s tab.
EOLIS consultants advise clients as to when they may have an immediate need for special counsel in all major legal disciplines. For those who are curious about negligence claims, the New York law firm of Rottenstein LLP advises “You need to have the following four elements: (1) duty (2) breach of that duty (3) causation of harm, and (4) damages.” If you get sick from food that you ate at a restaurant, you may be able to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages during your illness and recovery, as well as for your pain and suffering.
In the Plaza teatime incident, if the customer had fallen ill, showing causation of harm would be a simple matter of snapping a cell phone picture of the insect, the server witness, and later, the dismissive maitre d’.