Burger en Fuego- Personal Injury Case Draws $1Mil Verdict
You go in for a burger. You leave in an ambulance and have debilitating health problems for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Chiosso Law client, Sean S. He was up sold into ordering the “XXX Habanero Burger.” Anyone who finished it got a commemorative bumper sticker and their picture on the wall. Not knowing at the time there were ghost peppers in the sauce, he gave it a try. Mind you, this was back in 2015, when it wasn’t commonly known that ghost peppers were one of the hottest peppers known in the world. The restaurant even had everyone who ordered it sign a waiver, which Sean did. How spicy is the sauce? The chef wears a gas mask while preparing it. And Sean’s burger had 3-4 times the standard amount of sauce.
Mouth on fire can’t begin to describe it. Sean was given two pitchers of water to wash it all down. The spicy burger and 2 pitchers of water created insurmountable pressure in Sean’s stomach. After eating the burger, Sean had an episode of projectile vomiting that blew a hole in his esophagus, filled his chest cavity with toxic vomit and caused a collapsed lung. He was taken to the ER and read his last rights. But he underwent emergency life saving surgery and was put into a 2 week coma to allow his esophagus to heal. Sean suffered from extreme ER psychosis and relied on a feeding tube for much of the next two years. He’s since undergone over 9 more surgeries related to the burger. Though he improved a little, he still had trouble eating food by the time of the case in 2019.
During discovery for the case, we learned that the bar had a known history of customers complaining about vomiting after eating their burger (thanks to Facebook). However, the bar owner denied knowledge of any previous events, so we brought the Facebook posters to trial for some memorable testimony. Chiosso Law had outstanding partners in this case, including Miles Cooper of Emison Cooper & Cooper, Albert Thuesen and James O’Brien of Coit Law Group. They were particularly effective in picking a jury, which was essential.
The largest issues in the case were: 1) The signed “waiver” (which, if found to be applicable, can only be beaten by a showing of gross negligence) 2) The primary assumption of risk defense for participating in a food eating challenge (which must be beaten by demonstrating the host increased the risks otherwise normally inherent in the activity).
We beat them both. We argued for future medical expenses, general damages, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of companionship for Sean’s spouse. After 16 days of trial, the jury awarded $1.05 million to our client, which was 5 times more than the defendants’ only settlement offer. There are a lot of factors about this case, but a few lessons are the importance of having the proper counsel, willing to fight and go to great lengths to find the truth. It takes a lot of knowledge and experience to get all the people and records needed.
If you’ve had an injury that you think shouldn’t have happened — or know someone who has — contact us at Chiosso Law.
A Dog’s Bark is Usually Worse Than It’s Bite- Not in this Case
Chiosso Law recently helped a client who suffered major nerve damage after getting bitten by a dog off-leash in a public park. My client was walking his bike through a park and an off-leash Doberman pincher ran up to him angrily barking. The dog’s owner couldn’t control him, and my client was bit on the shin. Despite getting the wound addressed in the emergency room, it became infected, and the scar tissue damaged an important nerve to his foot. It caused near constant pain and numbness. And sometimes, the foot wouldn’t do what he wanted, so he was tripping and falling. We helped him find the right kind of specialist — after trying many — who could treat the injury correctly.
We helped our client advocate for himself, because sometimes you can’t take no for an answer. We also had to investigate the dog and owner and found a prior history of the dog biting people. The owner was especially negligent in having the dog off-leash in a public park.
The county determined the animal was a “dangerous dog”, the owner was ordered to get the dog training, keep him on-leash, keep him locked in a yard that children cannot access and take other measures to keep the public safe — something we care a lot about. Not only do we want to help our clients, but we want to prevent problems from happening again whenever we can. In the end, the insurance company settled and our client got $290,000 — much more than an average dog bite case. But again, not your average dog bite.
If you’ve had an injury that you think shouldn’t have happened — or know someone who has — contact http://www.chiossolaw.com/contact.html.
Holding Large Corporations Responsible
This is an accident that shouldn’t have happened. Our client was hit by a shopping cart falling down an escalator at a below-street-level store. The posts at the top of the escalator should have stopped the cart, but they weren’t close enough together to work properly — something that had been a risk for years.
This violent impact was thrust into her life unexpectedly and her injuries upended the life of this lovely 85-year-old woman. She went from walking miles a day to not being able to walk at all. She lost her independence and could no longer live on her own. It was devastating for her, and I wanted her to get everything she was entitled to-everything that had been taken from her.
The large chain supermarket and their insurance company refused to be accountable for the damage they inflicted-right up until the week before trial was about to start. But finally, we earned a settlement that was the justice she deserved - it wasn’t just the money justice that our court system allows, it also included a signed promise from the store to fix the problem so that it never happens again.
This is why Tony Chiosso switched from working on the defense side where he learned how large corporations and insurance companies handle and value their cases and try to avoid responsibility. Today, we at Chiosso Law use that knowledge to represent people who are facing these very same entities.
If you’ve been involved in an incident that you think shouldn’t have happened — or know someone who has — contact us at http://www.chiossolaw.com/contact.html.
Landlord Negligence Leads to Tenant Aguish
Most landlords are good. Some think they’re untouchable. And that’s hard for most tenants to fight on their own.
One of our clients kept notifying with their landlord about a major plumbing issue. The building’s water system kept getting shut off for repairs-often without notice. And when the water would get turned back on, it caused all the faucets and showerheads to sputter, make a lot of noise and release a ton of rust into their drinking water. It was the last thing this new couple with a baby needed!
The landlord’s response: “the pipes are old; you just have to deal with it.” It then got worse. One weekend, while out of town, the repairmen turning the water back on created so much pressure that it blew out the shower valve. Hot, steaming water poured out FOR SEVERAL DAYS.
The couple came home to find all their belongings wet and moldy — everything they owned, including priceless family photos was destroyed. They had to live with family and moved into a hotel until they could find a new place to live. The landlord not only didn’t accept responsibility, but he tried to blame them — he countersued them for damaging his property.
This is the kind of situation where you can be in a lot of trouble unless you have someone knowledgeable to fight for you. It’s not something most tenants can handle on their own. In the end, the couple received full justice, they were compensated for all their lost property, expenses and for everything they went through as well as attorney’s fees.
Having a problem with you landlord? Send us a message!
Building Code Neglect Can Lead to Injury
Sometimes, the things that are supposed to protect you don’t do their job. This is the story of a client who tripped and fell because of poor sidewalk design.
This woman in her 60s left a chain coffee shop and headed down the handicap ramp to find her daughter in the parking lot. Near the bottom of the ramp, the handrail ended. She assumed — as most of us would — that was the end of the ramp. But it wasn’t. She wasn’t expecting a curb protruding out into the walkway, as the ramp opened into the parking lot. She tripped, fell hard and broke her knee.
It was horribly painful, required major surgery and lots of physical therapy. All because the ramp violated the building code. We were able to get her the compensation and justice she deserved. No one should have to go through this. No one wants their loved one to go through this.
If you’ve had an accident that you think shouldn’t have happened — or know someone who has — contact us at http://www.chiossolaw.com/contact.html.
Distracted Driving Causes Accidents
This client was rear-ended by a driver looking at his phone, couldn’t continue in his career and had to switch jobs. He also found himself in and out of doctor’s offices for more than a year. We went after the responsible parties to get our client the compensation he deserved.
He went to his chiropractor the next day for shoulder, neck, back and sciatic pain and numbness. Throughout his life, he relied on chiropractic care, though did have MRIs taken and visited an orthopedic surgeon months after the accident, as he was still suffering. The final award of $215,000 is significantly above the $30,000 that the defense offered before trial. Insurance companies routinely undervalue how much a car crash affects your life. You need an attorney willing to take your case all the way to trial to get a fair award. And we’re the ones who can do that.
Che Hashim of the Offices of Che Hashim and Albert Thuesen of Coit Law Group assisted with witnesses. This was truly a team effort and we appreciated all the support.
If you’ve had an accident — or know someone who has — contact http://www.chiossolaw.com/contact.html.