Benihana Cleared in Flying-Shrimp Wrongful-Death Case

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This week, a jury in Long Island rejected a plaintiff’s claim that her husband died as a result of negligence by a shrimp-flinging Benihana chef.

Jacqueline Colaitis testified that her husband Jerry hurt his neck while trying to dodge a steaming-hot shrimp that had been hurled at him by the chef.  Allegedly, the chef (who was never identified) flung the fatal shrimp after he had already beaned two other family members and had been asked to stop.  "Don’t you understand?" Mr. Colaitis begged the chef.  "We told you to stop."  But the chef ignored Colaitis and fired another shrimp at him, while laughing maniacally and waving sharp knives at the family in a threatening manner (NOTE: maniacal-laughter and knife-waving details fabricated by me).

According to the plaintiff, Mr. Colaitis wrenched his neck while trying to dodge the shrimp, and developed neck pain as a result.  He eventually underwent two spinal surgeries, and later developed a staph infection and died.  The plaintiff sought $16 million from Benihana, arguing that the chef had started a chain of events that culminated in the decedent’s death.

The jury rejected the claim after deliberating for about 20 minutes.  One later said that Benihana diners assumed the risk of injury when they went to the restaurant.  "I suppose there is an inherent danger in food being tossed," said juror Elizabeth Cardito, "but you know that going in."

Benihana’s lawyer said the food-tossing was stopped after the lawsuit was filed.

New York Daily News