In the world of restaurant dining, one type of experience is theatrical as well as delicious. Japanese restaurants featuring hibachi grills (also called teppanyaki grills) are very popular in large cities across California and throughout the United States. The trained chefs manning the grills often perform tricks, including interesting stacking of food ingredients and flipping pieces of food toward the guests seated around each station.
But even though hibachi restaurants often serve delicious food along with fun, having open grills near dining patrons can be dangerous. Recently, the best-known hibachi restaurant chain, Benihana, was sued by actress Tori Spelling, who was burned earlier this year on a trip to the Encino location.
According to news sources, Spelling and her family were dining at a Benihana on Easter weekend. When getting up to leave, Spelling reportedly slipped and fell onto one of the grills. In doing so, she suffered “deep second- and third-degree burn injuries requiring hospitalization and surgery.”
Other news reports say that her injuries were severe enough to require skin grafts and that she now has a “large red scar.”
In her premises liability and negligence lawsuit, Tori Spelling is seeking more than $25,000 in compensatory damages. With burns so severe, her medical bills could have easily totaled more than that amount. It will be interesting to see if the case goes to trial, and whether it result in safety features being added around hibachi grills in restaurants.
premises liability cases can be tricky, but it seems safe to assume that Ms. Spelling is not the only person who has suffered burn injuries in a hibachi restaurant. If this type of injury is fairly commonplace, hopefully this high-profile lawsuit will lead to reasonable safety upgrades.