Mississippi Lawyer Sues Popeyes After Choking On Chicken Meal

Attorney Paul Newton Jr. clearly no longer joins the mantra of “Love that chicken from popeyes.” Newton is suing Popeyes Louisiana Chicken after he choked and required an emergency surgery.  He had taken to great of a bite of his chicken and blames the chain for only supplying him with a combination spoon and fork, or “spork,” rather than a knife.  I find the lawsuit dubious at best.

sporks_-_20070804On November 1, 2015, Newton ordered two chicken breasts, red beans and rice, a biscuit and a soft drink. He returned to his office and began to eat the chicken with the spork.  His complaint states “Because Newton’s order did not include a plastic knife,” the lawsuit says, “plaintiff Newton’s only option for consumption of the chicken breasts was to hold a chicken breast in his hands and to tear off pieces thereof with his teeth.”

He found himself at the Memorial Hospital at Gulfport where then surgically removed the chicken.  His lawsuit suggests that the chain was negligent in failing to supply adequate utensils like a plastic knife.  He is demanding damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering and any other damages shown at trial.

The lawsuit should in my view be dismissed and the chain could seek sanctions if it claims the filing to be frivolous.  I do not see why the supplying of a spork is clearly negligent.  It is possible to taken smaller pieces of a piece of chicken if you were inclined to use a utensil.  The chain is likely to argue that the spork was for the red beans not the chicken.

Moreover, there is a plaintiffs’ conduct question.  Most people eat fried chicken with their fingers, not utensils.  More importantly, Newton determined how and how much he would eat.  He elected to swallow the copious amount of chicken without properly chewing.  Those any negligence would be met with a towering claim of comparative negligence.

Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state with twelve other states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington).  Under this approach, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by his own negligence but (unlike a partial or modified comparative negligence state) there is not a fifth percent cut off for his own negligence.  Thus, he could be 99 percent at fault and still collect one percent in damages if the chain is found negligent.

It will be interesting to watch the motion to dismiss litigation and decision of the Court.

What do you think?

22 thoughts on “Mississippi Lawyer Sues Popeyes After Choking On Chicken Meal”

  1. When I go to eat in a restaurant that has plastic knives and forks I bring in my metal knife and fork. I make a big show of getting them out of my pocket and unwrapping the napkin. I do it in front of the waiter. When I leave I have the knife and fork wrapped in the napkin but visible out the top of the napkin and tucked into my suit chest pocket with the knife and fork visible. Clean of course. When I check out at the cash register I point the items out to the cashier. Put a fork in it.

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  3. Well it is good advertising and exposure, now he can say” No Client Turned Away No Matter How Frivolous”. Perhaps he had turned away from Subway following the revelations about Jared Fogle, and can’t eat at Chik-Fil-A for appearance reasons.

  4. Will knives and forks now be required to be given to customers who purchase pizza? An apple? A fried drumstick? Ribs?

    People have been eating with their fingers and teeth since they evolved. One of the most inherent responsibilities we have as living beings is to control what goes into our mouths and how we consume it.

    Any lawsuit is atrociously expensive, long before it ever sees the inside of a courtroom. There are all the letters, mediation attempts, filings, and everything else that racks up tens of thousands of dollars.

    That’s the problem with our legal system. Unless you have unlimited means, it’s not really fair, because you cannot afford to defend yourself. This franchise owner has likely had to pay a considerable amount of money, as well as time, to devote to this.

    One more reason why we need tort reform, and the award of legal fees in dismissing frivolous lawsuits.


    After reading about the McDonald’s lawsuit, I felt that the plaintiff was responsible for causing the burn, because she negligently put a hot drink next to her lady parts. But McD’s was responsible for the extent of the burns and damage above and beyond what would have occurred with a normal hot coffee burn.

    1. Karen – track down the photos of the burns on her legs. She did put the coffee between her legs, but the scalding is incredible. Wait until you see the photos. The coffee was incredible hot.

      1. There’s a reason besides energy savings that allows a water heater to operate at 120 degrees, much lower than any coffee brewer: It’s tough to get burned at that temperature.
        Even coffee much hotter will tear up your inner thighs. I feel sorry for the lady’s pain, but if you order hot coffee, you expect it to be hot. 120 is not acceptable. Try it with your own water heater thermostat.

  5. The mother forker should bring his own utensils. But he should be barred from fast food anywhere in the U.S. He needs to move to Cuba.

  6. Popeye’s should sue the law school that produced this idiot and the state that gave him his license to practice.

  7. he must not have a very busy practice if he has time for this nonsense. sanctions, heaving sanctions should be inflicted.

  8. This attorney needs to change his diet to something less risky than choking his chicken and nearly dying.

    Maybe he should entertain vegan diet but there might be an issue with cucumbers since he obviously is not intelligent enough to slice them first before swallowing.

    The sad part of this ridiculous affair is that a small franchisee has to accommodate legally all sorts of dysfunction among their customer base. The restaurant could perform a stellar job for food safety and health, serving tens of thousands of customers without incident. Then, some doofus comes along and manages to injure himself using a salt shaker. Suddenly its the restaurant’s fault.

    I foresee a summary judgment for the defendants.

  9. I think the lawyer was wolfing his food down while he was “multi-tasking.” He admits taking the food back to his office; he was likely eating too fast while he was looking through a pleading. I think it is interesting how many teachers choke on their food while eating in the classroom. I suspect the same is true, that they are eating too fast while doing other duties. There was a time when everyone actually sat down at the table and had a meal, not concentrating on anything else except perhaps some conversation with a family member. Now people eat while walking down the street, riding in subways, driving, etc. I even had a tow truck driver tell me he can’t count the number of times he’s responded to a auto pile-up with fatalities, and seen French fries, pizza, you name it splattered across the dashboard stuck in blood. Gruesome, yes, but he said once you see that a few times you’ll never eat while driving again.

  10. The McDonald’s coffee suit was legitimate. They had several cases against them and the jury award was a wake up call. They had been told by several juries to lower the temperature of their coffee. It was established at trial that McDonald’s was using a cheaper bean and needed a much higher temperature to percolate at. Hence the coffee was much hotter than the coffee you would make at home.

    1. The coffee was within the range at which coffee was and continues to be routinely served. Since then similar cases have been dismissed. At the time of the verdict, it was publicly stated that McDonalds disagreed with the verdict and did not intend to reduce the temperature at which its coffee was served and yet its coffee sales were not reduced. There is a difference between suits alleging negligent spillage or packaging of hot coffee–where successful cases have been filed– and those alleging that the coffee was served at an unreasonably high temperature, which has not generally been successful.

      1. Richard – only companies that use poor quality coffee beans need use the temperature that McDonald’s used. It no longer uses that temperature.

  11. Did his parents never teach him this famous childhood ditty???

    One thing you should never do,
    Is bite off more than you can chew!
    Your mouth will never be your friend!
    If you shovel too much in!
    Your fingers too, will have a fit,
    If you use them to stir up sh-t!

    I swear I remember that from my childhood.


    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. Should have taken his mother’s advice to heart: take small bites and chew food thoroughly.

    Of course, he could keep a Leatherman or titanium spork handy for such occasions.

  13. Remember the huge settlement against McDonalds for the too hot coffee? Maybe a counter suit against the instructors and professors and parents and school districts who failed to teach this money grubbing leech to eat properly. If he objected to Sporking but still wanted Popeyes Menu offering it required only to bring his own plastic knife,fork and spoon. Present company running this site aside it is not wonder Lawyers and Attorneys are considered unfit for polite company of decent people. Another reason to ban them from government positions such as Senator, Representative and Judicial jobs. Dear whoever you are. Spork you.

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