Banana Foster Tort: Four Customers Burned By Flambé

There is an interesting torts case in Palm Harbor, Florida where four diners were burned by the banana foster at Ozona Blue Grilling Co. The waiter accidentally added too much rum to the bananas foster causing burns to the people around the table, including one severe burn case of a woman whose dress caught fire.

I have always been intrigued by the use of flaming dishes in restaurants due to the obvious legal liability issues. You add a flammable liquid to a plate on a small table with people seated closely around it.

While many states impose strict liability for adulterated foods, see e.g., Koster v. Scotch Assocs., 640 A.2d 1225, 1226 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. 1993), such cases are usually handled in negligence. In this case, you appear to have a clear case of negligence by the restaurant and there is no implied or express waiver of liability. Indeed, the restaurant could not convincingly argue implied assumption since the consumer expects the dish to be presented in a reasonable and professional fashion.

The restaurant boasts that it is “the only restaurant with a pool and an ocean!!” That could come in quite handy with desserts at Ozona Grill.

Source: Huff Post

Kudos: Buddha is Laughing

16 thoughts on “Banana Foster Tort: Four Customers Burned By Flambé”

  1. Prof. Turley: I rarely presume to make such an off-the-wall suggestion, but I have a super-strong feeling in Florida that it needs you now. In particular, I think that you might find a role in,_2012

    Now, this is *tottaly* off the wall and I am not going to explain this suggestion. Please just consider getting involved with that, probably not as a Senatorial candidate quite yet. My strongest rational basis that Florida is down-in-the-dumps is because the Space Shuttle is soon going to be gone. The Sunshine State and you are my strong pick in a strictly emotional way. When I think of you, I think of FDR, Dan Moynihan and their ilk and you are the one guy in the nation who has it all. Think about it. You might come back to D.C. with some authority as a Senator’s assistant and being groomed for office in your own right. You are the one guy besides besides the current President that, when I think of you, I tell myself that there is hope for a bright future for my daughter, who just graduated from high school. Take your time and scope out the terrain. If you see not problems on your side or that objective, then please: go, go go!

  2. guilhem,

    Your general statement about alcohol fires is true. They are low temperature and back in the day I used to do a stage magic trick using isopropyl alcohol to set my hand on fire at parties. The big difference in a cooking fire like one you can get from Bananas Foster is the sugar. Ask any candy maker, molten sugar can introduce you to a whole new world of pain. Not only does it retain a lot of heat, it’s a viscous liquid that sticks to your skin. In the pan though, the sugar is getting most of its heat from the pan, not the burning alcohol. That being said, I’m still all for Bananas Foster in the traditional presentation despite having suggested the article for tort reasons. If done properly, the danger is minimal.

  3. The flame looks impressive, but is not as dangerous as it seems, since the temperature is lower than ordinary flames. (I’m actually basing that on performance fire in general, as I am not an expert in kitchen fires.) There is obviously some measure of risk, esp. in the case of hair catching fire, but people ordering a flambé know what to expect. Accidents happen, and I wouldn’t throw the rock unless there was an obvious fault (dropping the dish on the customer, putting several times too much alcohol, trying to make a “funny joke”, etc).

  4. Don’t you DARE litigate my flambe’s away,

    They are tasty, and have a sweet glow….

    Flambes have amazed for many sweet days

    1 lousy waiter’s no reason they should go.

    Sometimes things are risky, sometimes they blow up!

    like oil rigs by BP, and dead whales by the sea…

    but a Fosters not the same without it’s neat flame

    it would still be sweet but not quite the treat

    why should we all pay cause one dress got in the way

    it’s not like it ruined the Ocean…

    Go find something more dangerous, dire and strangerous

    to fix and make better our life….

    Like maybe the War or the Markets or Health

    or Fraudsters or Mobsters or those lacking Wealth

    but no don’t you dare, I say it beware!


  5. Amateurs. I’ve got a recipe for a dish where you roast a peacock, wrap it in gold foil, recover it with the skin, stick a rag soaked in hard liquor in it’s mouth, and serve it to the guests breathing fire.

  6. It seems to me an appropriate measure (shot glass or half-shot glass or whatever) could be found that provides the right amount of flame with the least amount of danger. Leave the bottle in the kitchen and just bring the measure of “fuel” out.

  7. From a strict flavor/texture/aroma point of view, there are a lot of equal or superior techniques to flambe. But, hey, for restaurants that focus on the “circus” aspect more than the “bread”, it’s cool and fun – I say let them have at it (responsibly).

    In some cases, the tableside flambe set up includes an actual bottle of booze. If the guy in this case was pouring directly from a bottle over the heat source, then, yes, that was pretty stupid. You really should pour a measured amount of booze into a separate container (like a ladle), optionally pre-warm it, then add that to the pan and ignite it – much more controlled both in terms of flame and flavoring.

    Tableside liquid nitrogen ice cream making is more to my taste!

  8. Not to be contrarian, but if you are unwilling to suffer for Bananas Foster, then you have no business ordering it.

  9. The thing about Bananas Foster and all flambéed dishes is that they taste the same at the table even if they are flambéed in the kitchen.

    The human propensity for shiny objects is inherently dangerous.

  10. If they’d just learn to eat Hot Peppers the way it was meant to be….no one suffers but the one that cannot handle the heat….

  11. My mom was a caterer & I worked the kitchen at many events. One time the client had an uncle who was a “professional chef” (turned out he was an Army trained bean burner) who showed up at the last minute & they insisted he ‘help’ us and also make Cherry Jubilee for dessert.

    I got stuck being the jerks errand boy. He was from the abusive school of kitchen management & scolded me for anything he didn’t like. That included my trying to see ahead to what he would need next & having it ready for him – he yelled at me to not give him anything until he asked for it.

    When the dessert show started he managed to splash alcohol on himself & set himself on fire. I had a side towel he could have used to put out the flames but he didn’t ask for it so I didn’t give it to him.

Comments are closed.