It’s been said time and time again that we live in a litigious society, where everybody sues everybody over seemingly miniscule offenses. While most people are perfectly fine with handling their disagreements without getting lawyers involved, for others it’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever they feel that they’ve been slighted. And for some reason, restaurants tend to be in these people’s crosshairs.
There are, of course, some legitimate reasons to sue a restaurant. If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against because of your race, gender, etc., it’s perfectly acceptable to sue. If the floor was slippery and you fell and broke an arm, try your luck. If they promised that no shellfish was in a dish but they included it anyway, leading to an allergic reaction, they can certainly expect to have a lawsuit on their hands. But the line between what is and what isn’t acceptable to sue over isn’t exactly cut-and-dried, and occasionally restaurants are sued for completely ridiculous reasons.
In most of these cases, judges take one look at the suit before throwing it out and moving on to more important matters. But in some circumstances these cases actually make it to trial, and plaintiffs have occasionally walked away with millions of dollars over offenses that most people wouldn’t even briefly consider suing over.
Some frivolous lawsuits are the work of the compulsively litigious; those who are seemingly constantly suing someone for one reason or another, hoping that something will stick and they’ll walk away with a hefty payday. Others legitimately believe that their complaint is reasonable, that the restaurant was in the wrong, and they deserve to be paid. Read on to learn about nine times when restaurants were sued for shocking, bizarre, or downright silly reasons; some are still being tried, some were thrown out, some were settled, and some made their plaintiffs very rich.
Yul Brenner vs. Trader Vic’s
Back in 1973, actor Yul Brenner (best known for portraying the King of Siam in The King and I) ate some pork spare ribs at the New York outpost of legendary Tiki-themed restaurant Trader Vic’s, located in the basement of the Plaza Hotel. He came down with a case of trichinosis for which blamed on the restaurant, and sued for $3 million. The case was settled out of court four years later; Brenner was awarded $125,000 and the restaurant vowed to serve only well-done meat going forward.
In July 2010, a woman named Allysen Kauppinen dropped into a Ypsilanti, Mich. restaurant called Luca’s and ordered eggs and corned beef hash. Unfortunately for her, the hash was scorching hot, and it allegedly burned her mouth. Instead of complaining, she took the restaurant to court, seeking $25,000 in damages for the “great emotional upset, embarrassment, and pain” the traumatic event caused. No details are available on how the case played out.