NJ Appeals Court Tosses Applebee’s Fajita Prayer Suit

A New Jersey appeals court on Wednesday (3/4/15) shot down a personal injury suit against Applebee’s International Inc. by a man claiming he was burned while praying over a sizzling fajita skillet, ruling that it was an “open and obvious” danger.

A two-judge panel of the NJ Superior Court’s Appellate Division affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of Hiram Jimenez’s negligence case against Applebee’s for not warning him about a hot fajita platter that he said popped hot grease into his face and eye after he bowed over it to pray.

The appellate panel agreed with the lower court judge’s determination that Applebee’s had a duty to provide patrons with reasonably safe premises but no duty to warn against an open and obvious danger.

“Once the platter was served, defendants had no control over it, and plaintiff had the opportunity and ability to act to protect himself from any danger that it posed, since the danger was open and obvious,” the panel wrote in the unpublished opinion. “We conclude that … imposition of a duty upon defendants to warn plaintiff of the danger presented by the sizzling hot platter is not required as a matter of fairness and sound policy.

Judges Joseph L. Yannotti and Douglas M. Fasciale sat on the appellate division panel.

The case is Hiram Jimenez vs. Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar et al., case number A-2247-13T2, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

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