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Restaurant Owes Patrons A Duty Of Care

It is a stock scene in comedies--the clumsy waiter spilling hot soup on the restaurant patron. However, as one family in Illinois recently discovered, the dangers presented by hot liquids are not always a laughing matter.

A family, including a three-month-old daughter, went to a Chinese restaurant for brunch. As the family was being seated, the waitress placed a pot of hot tea on a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table and left to get everyone water. Before the infant's parents could even sit down, a four-year-old cousin spun the Lazy Susan violently, spilling the tea on the infant. The tea was so hot that the child was badly burned.

The parents sued the restaurant, claiming that placing a pot of hot tea on the table without alerting the adults of its presence was negligent, and that the restaurant should have known that placing a teapot on a Lazy Susan in front of a small child might be dangerous. In response, the restaurant argued that it was not responsible because it was the parents' job to supervise and protect their child.

The court found that it is impossible for parents to be vigilant every second. The fact that the parents had just arrived and did not know the tea had been put on the table made it difficult for them to protect their child. Because it was reasonably foreseeable that a small child might spill the tea, and because the restaurant could avoid such incidents merely by warning patrons that the tea is hot, the court ruled that the restaurant may have owed its patrons a duty of care, and allowed the parents to pursue their lawsuit against the restaurant.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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