It is unlikely that despite the company’s slogan, Applebee’s will be seeing Hiram Jimenez tomorrow. An appellate court in New Jersey ruled that Jimenez cannot sue after he was burned by a sizzling plate of fajitas.
The court ruled that the risk of hot food is an “open and obvious” danger. Jimenez no doubt argued that he understood that the plate was hot but that he was burned by a splattering dish. He said that he heard a popping noise and was burned. He said that the restaurant failed to warn him that he could be burned by simply being in close proximity with the dish. However, the court said that there is no duty to warn of things that are open and obvious. The panel distinguished such dangers with hidden dangers that may make the premises unsafe and must be made safe by the owner.
One could quibble with the assumption that a splattering (as opposed to a hot) dish is “self-evident” since it is likely to become evident when a customer is splattered. Yet, most people (and likely jurors) would probably come to the same conclusion.
Kudos: Professor Professor Roger E. Schechter