Top 10 Scariest Restaurant Lawsuits

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10 THE HOT COFFEE INCIDENT

The “hot coffee lawsuit” brought against McDonald’s is pretty legendary in terms of restaurant lawsuits. The jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.86 million after she suffered third-degree burns from a McDonald’s coffee she accidentally spilled in her lap.

RESTAURANT LOSS:
● $2.86 million
● Loss of reputation via lots of bad press

LESSON LEARNED: Always provide clear labeling for how your food or beverages are prepared.

9 SAY A LITTLE PRAYER

A few years ago, a man named Hiram Jimenez attempted to sue Applebee’s after
he was burned by a plate of fajitas. The catch? The reason he was burned in the first place was because he leaned his face over the “sizzling, smoking and real hot” fajitas while praying. The lower court dismissed the case because the risk of injury was clearly evident.

RESTAURANT LOSS:
● One less customer

LESSON LEARNED: Never assume your customers will use common sense, and make sure your employees are trained fully on your menu items, preparations, and warnings.

8 CELEBRITY CHEF STEALS TIPS

A multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit was filed against famed Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Employees claimed that Bouloud had not properly compensated them for the work they did, that he pocketed their tips, and that he forced tipped employees to pool tips with kitchen staff.

RESTAURANT LOSS:
● $1.4 million
● Loss of employee trust
● Brand’s reputation tarnished

LESSON LEARNED: Always pay your staff a fair wage.

7 FRANCHISEES FREAK OUT

When Burger King decided to run a $1 double cheeseburger promotion in 2009, franchisees revolted. While the promotion resulted in an increase in visits, the franchisees were losing money, claiming a $.10 loss on each double cheeseburger sold, and subsequently sued the franchise.

RESTAURANT LOSS:
● Lawsuit dropped, but Burger King had to give franchisees more power over setting prices
● Loss of trust from franchisees

LESSON LEARNED: If you’re running a franchise, you’ve got to treat your franchisees like family— especially if you’re expecting them to stay invested in your brand.

6 THE SKIN SANDWICH

An Ohio man sued his local Arby’s after finding the skin from a restaurant
manager’s fingertip in his sandwich. It turns out that the restaurant manager, who had
sliced the tip of his thumb while using a shredder, remembered to sanitize the area afterwards, but forgot to throw away the contaminated lettuce bin.

RESTAURANT LOSS:
● $50,000
● Loss of reputation via really bad press
● This is just a guess, but they probably lost a lot of time having to retrain all their employees on food and workplace safety procedures.

LESSON LEARNED: Always have clearly defined food safety, preparation, and workplace injury information available at your restaurant so there’s never any doubt about how to handle these types of incidents.

FIND THE TOP 5: Bob Evans, Subway, Starbucks, Jack In The Box and Chipotle at www.great-taste.net

ABOUT THE BIZ

Sagi Rochman and Better Chains

Better Chains Founder and CEO, Sagi Rochman, is an international hospitality owner and technology innovator. After honing his restaurateur career in Israel, Rochman moved to Long Beach and opened up Sachi Bar and Sababa. When he met Marty Cox, President and Founder of It’s a Grind Coffee Franchise, they
decided to collaborate on what is now, Better Chains: a technology firm that simplifies
restaurant operation systems.

“Technology is the answer,” he said. “The restaurants must jump in.”

Better Chains products range from applicant tracking systems, to training modules, to staff
scheduling and more. For more information, visit www.betterchains.com

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