Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Sued Over Burger Injury

A chef is suing a Gordon Ramsay-owned restaurant in New York City after a bite into a burger allegedly claimed his sense of taste.

Markus Barthel, a German chef who visited Ramsay's restaurant -- called Gordon Ramsay at The London -- in March 2013, filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday claiming that something sharp concealed between the buns sliced up his tongue, the New York Daily News reports.

A good palate is key to a good chef, but is Ramsay's restaurant responsible for putting Barthel off his taste game?

Barthel's Burger Had a 'Sharp Piece'

Normally the only thing sharp about a burger might be the cheddar, but Barthel claims that his burger contained some "sharp piece of ceramic or other material had been concealed in the hamburger."

The shard of unknown origin apparently cut the German chef's tongue so badly that he required surgery, continues to suffer pain, and lost his job as a professional chef. Barthel's suit ties his loss of employment to his inability "to perform the duties of a professional chef," which is likely referring to his ability to use his tongue as fine-tuned taste instrument.

Lost earning capacity is but one of many ways in which victims who file suit for their injuries can recover. If Barthel can prove that Gordon Ramsay's restaurant was at fault in causing his tongue injury, he may be able to receive a large award for losing his ability to be an effective chef.

Negligence, Product Liability Claims

Barthel made two kinds of claims in his lawsuit against Gordon Ramsay's restaurant: one relating to negligence and the other to the burger itself.

Using a concept referred to as res ipsa loquitur, Barthel's suit assumes that when extraordinary injuries occur (like bricks falling from the sky or shards of something in your burger), the cause is presumed to be negligence -- namely that of the restaurant and its staff.

The other claims are related to the shard-laden burger itself. Just like any product sold, a restaurant implicitly warrants that the food it sells is safe for its intended purpose -- in this case, eating. Because eating shards of whatever is patently unsafe, the restaurant not only violated its implied warranty but also sold a defective, unsafe product, Barthel's suit asserts.

To be clear, Gordon Ramsay is not a defendant in the lawsuit. A spokesman for Ramsay's restaurant declined to comment, the Daily News reports.

Another McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit Filed in L.A.

A new McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles, two decades after the infamous "McDonald's coffee" case that received worldwide attention.

In the latest case, a woman named Paulette Carr claims she was injured by hot McDonald's coffee in January 2012 at a Southern California drive-thru, reports the Los Angeles Times.

How does Carr's case against McDonald's coffee compare to its infamous predecessor?

Alleged Negligence: Loose Coffee Lid

The thrust of Carr's suit is that McDonald's caused her hot coffee injuries by "negligently, carelessly and improperly" placing the plastic lid on Carr's coffee cup, causing it to spill onto her, reports the Times.

Like most suits against large chains, Carr is holding McDonald's as an employer responsible for the alleged negligence of the employee who allegedly neglected her coffee cup lip.

A plaintiff like Carr can potentially recover a wide array of damages depending on the extent of her injuries from the hot coffee, but Carr's California civil suit does not describe the severity of her injuries, according to the Times.

It's uncertain how Carr's suit will play out, but she's already shadowed by the specter of the "original" McDonald's coffee case.

Comparisons to Earlier McDonald's Coffee Case

Like many things which move from fact and history into American folk legend, the 1994 "hot coffee" verdict was captured in the lines of a Toby Keith ditty, "American Ride":

"Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller.
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars."

The general feeling about the jury's $2.9 million award for Stella Liebeck, the woman who had hot McDonald's coffee spilled on her in 1992, was outrage -- both at the "frivolous" nature of the woman's suit and that our civil court system would allow such a seemingly large award.

In reality, a judge reduced Liebeck's award to less than $500,000; McDonald's and Liebeck later entered into a confidential settlement agreement.

What Keith and many Americans also failed to realize was how serious Liebeck's injuries were. As chronicled in the 2011 documentary "Hot Coffee," Liebeck received serious third-degree burns to her genitals, thighs, and groin areas, and required skin grafts as a result.

And Liebeck's coffee itself was more than "hot" -- it was at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit, in line with McDonald's practices at the time.

If you or someone you know has a "beef" with McDonald's (or any other establishment) over hot coffee, consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

What Movies Don't Know About Injury Lawsuits

It's no surprise that Hollywood loves legal stories -- after all, criminal cases and injury lawsuits make for good drama. What they don't seem to love, however, is realism.

There are some great movies based on important personal injury suits, including "Erin Brockovich," "Philadelphia," "A Civil Action," and "Class Action." But they don't necessarily give a practical picture of what a personal injury suit actually entails.

That's unfortunate, because a personal injury lawsuit is often the best way to get compensation when others violate your legal rights. So here, we attempt to dispel five movie myths and set the record straight.

  1. It doesn't have to be a class action. There aren't many movies about cases affecting only one plaintiff, but in reality those are the most typical lawsuits. While big cases do happen, most of them center on one person who has been wronged, and the person who allegedly caused the harm.

  2. Lawsuits don't last have to last a decade. One of things that turns people off from filing legitimate claims is the fear that they'll never see any money. True, lawsuits can take a while, but unlike the fears dramatized in "Erin Brockovitch," it's uncommon for them to last as long as a decade.

  3. Lawyers are professionals. Let's be clear: The father-daughter opposing counsel situation depicted in "Class Action" would not be permitted in court. And the verbal abuse between attorney and client in "Philadelphia" also isn't a trademark of the legal profession. When you actually hire a lawyer you're hiring a professional, not someone who's looking to sell tickets.

  4. Big business isn't always the bad guy. Stories that make the news often involve nasty battles in which a company isn't willing to pay. But in reality, when you're injured because of something a corporation did or didn't do, they're often willing to settle the case.

  5. No one has to die before you can file. Hollywood-style personal-injury cases often involve a life-or-death situation where someone has died, or is about to die. But relatively minor physical injuries, emotional damage, and reputational harm can also be the basis for a personal injury suit. You have rights and the law lets you enforce them, even if you aren't dying.
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