A New Jersey appeals panel ruled Wednesday that an Applebee’s restaurant cannot be held liable for burns suffered by a man while he was praying over a sizzling fajita platter.
Hiram Jimenez originally sued the restaurant chain in state Superior Court. That court threw the case out and Jimenez appealed, according to NJ.com.
Jimenez said he visited the restaurant in March 2010 with his brother, Rafael Jimenez. He claimed the waitress who brought the hot plate of food to his table failed to warn him that it was hot and could burn him.
Court documents indicate Jimenez was burned while he bowed his head in prayer.
“After the waitress walked away, Rafael reached over and said, ‘Let’s have prayer,’” the documents read, according to the New York Post. “Plaintiff bowed his head ‘[c]lose to the table.’”
Jimenez said the prayer was cut short by a loud sizzle, followed by a popping noise. He said he felt a “burning sensation” in his left eye and on his face.
Panicking, he pushed away from the table and knocked the platter into his lap and sustained more burns.
USA Today reports Jimenez claimed he suffered “serious and permanent” injuries “solely as a result of (Applebee's) negligence when he came in contact with a dangerous and hazardous condition, specifically, ‘a plate of hot food.’”
NJ.com reports that records indicate none of the burns Jimenez sustained left any permanent scarring.
The trial judge in the suit dismissed the claim, saying Applebee’s was not required to warn Jimenez “against a danger that is open and obvious.”
The appeals judges agreed.
“Here, the danger posed by a plate of sizzling hot food was self-evident,” the judges ruled. “Therefore, we conclude that the motion judge correctly determined that defendants had no duty to warn plaintiff that the food was sizzling hot and should be approached with due care.”
An attorney for Jimenez declined to comment on the decision. Applebee’s could not be reached for comment.