Hold the Fries: Did Burger Joint Get Raw Deal on Moby Dick Nuisance?

Steptoe & Johnson has prevailed against a burger restaurant, Rogue States, after the law firm complained that the fumes from the restaurant made them all smell like short-order cooks. Indeed, one of the firm’s “rainmakers” even reportedly threatened to resign from the firm if the burger smells were not removed from his office. D.C. Superior Court judge John Mott ruled that Rogue States was indeed responsible for a nuisance and must either abate the odors or close down.

The ruling came after a three-day hearing over the burger fumes. However, was Rogue States the true source of the fumes or was it another Washington conspiracy where the true culprit skillfully implicated an innocent party? (Think of No Way Out meets The Good Burger meets Anatomy of a Murder) The Washington Post reports that witnesses questioned the source of the smell — pointing fingers at Moby Dick’s House of Kabob and noting that complaints continued after a new air-cleaning equipment had been installed at the burger joint. Rogue States relied on a smellologist (OK I made up the title) as an expert. Nelson Dilg installed a “Smog-Hog exhaust system” at the restaurant, but testified that “a blind man” could see the fumes were coming from a vent that connected to the House of Kabob. Moreover, the restaurant was in a “building canyon” which trapped fumes from various sources.

Mott clearly rejected the causation challenge and Steptoe general counsel Thomas Barba clearly relished the result: “Steptoe is gratified by the court’s order. From the time that the restaurant started operations in February of this year, we have sought a solution that would allow the restaurant to continue its operations without harming our employees. Unfortunately, the restaurant and its landlord were unable to agree on a solution that would safeguard the well-being of our employees. Accordingly the court had no option but to order the nuisance abated and the restaurant to turn off its grill. While we wish the defendants could find a way to survive in this location and not cause a nuisance to our employees, we are committed to the health and safety of our workforce and providing our employees with a good environment to work in.” In other words, hold the fries, fellas.

Some Steptoe employees complained of headaches and dizziness. The cost of moving the ventilation system, however, to the roof of the building would cost over $150,000. That is a lot of burgers.

The question is why the defense firm, Roetzel & Andress, did not counter sue with a claim that Steptoe made its restaurant smell like ink stained paper, sweating associates, and piles of billing records.

Source: American Law Daily

Jonathan Turley

23 thoughts on “Hold the Fries: Did Burger Joint Get Raw Deal on Moby Dick Nuisance?”

  1. This is a reply to the commentator named “Pete” about suing someone for passing gas on an elevator. In Oregon, circa 1986, there was a federal suit brought against a grocery store employee by another employee who claimed that the defendant-employee had passed wind in his direction, deliberately, to harass and humiliate him. He sued for $50,000 for pain and suffering (that’s $50,000 in late-80s money). The employer, Albertson’s, managed to intervene and settle the suit by transferring one of the two employees; I cannot remember whether they transferred the plaintiff/humiliatee or the defendant/humiliator. I found the case because my ex-husband had sued me for “constipating baby” and he had sued the judge for giving me custody (characterized much the same way) so I was doing research on psycho-friv lawsuits and I came up with that one. It was a single cause of action for malicious eructation.

Comments are closed.