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Getting to the heart of restaurant safety


Are restaurants legally obligated to educate their customers about potentially dangerous vegetables?

That is the contention of a customer of a Florida restaurant, who argues that Houston's Restaurant in Miami should have taught him about the right way to eat an artichoke.

According to his Oct. 25 lawsuit filed in circuit court in Miami-Dade County against Hillstone Restaurant Group Inc., Arturo Carvajal said he was a customer in May 2009 when he was offered a house special of grilled artichokes, which was not on the menu.

Mr. Carvajal said he had neither seen nor heard of the dish previously, and his waiter never told him that the outside portion of the leaf is indigestible.

As a result, Mr. Carvajal began “experiencing severe abdominal pain and discomfort,” according to the suit. An exploratory procedure revealed artichoke leaves lodged in his small bowel.

Mr. Carvajal alleges that the restaurant and its manager were negligent in failing to train table servers to tell patrons about “the proper method of consuming an artichoke.”

He is seeking nonspecified damages for bodily injury, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, aggravation of pre-existing conditions as well as medical expenses, among other charges.

Glenn Viers, the restaurant chain's vp and general counsel, said while it is difficult to make light of a situation where a guest ends up in the hospital, “It's just kind of a silly notion” that the company has a duty to post warnings against someone eating an entire artichoke. “What's next? Are we going to have to post warnings on our menu they shouldn't eat the bones in our barbeque ribs?”

Mr. Viers said also the firm will defend the lawsuit “vigorously.”