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Diner Awarded $1.3 Million in Compensatory and Punitive Damages by Federal Jury for Injured Esophagus after Eating a Piece of Wire in His Dinner at db Bistro Moderne


A Federal Jury in Manhattan found in favor of a plaintiff injured while eating at the famed restaurant, db Bistro Moderne, owned and operated by celebrity chef, David Boulud. The diner swallowed a piece of metal wire which was in his Coq Au Vin resulting in damage to his esophagus and an infection which nearly cost him his life. According to a report by the New York Post, the famed restaurant used cheap wire brushes to clean their cooking equipment. These brushed can be purchased for $3 at a local hardware store. Evidence was shown that the Centers for Disease Control had issued a warning in 2012 about using the brushes in commercial kitchens.

The jury was obviously troubled by this and the fact that such a high-end restaurant would have cut corners in such a dangerous and negligent way. The jury awarded the plaintiff $300,000 in compensatory damages for the injuries he sustained and $1 million in punitive damages against the restaurant for their shocking lack of oversight, polices, and procedures, that would have prevented this incident.

Restaurants, like many commercial establishments, are charged with a duty of reasonable care towards those persons frequenting their business. A breach of that duty which causes an injury to a diner would be considered negligence. Negligence is generally defined as being the failure to use that degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. A simple way to think about it is to compare the conduct or “carefulness” of the defendant to how careful one might think a reasonably careful person (ie; a “prudent” person) would have acted, if that person was in the same situation. In the instant case, the restaurant was clearly negligent in using improper wire brushes around their cooking equipment which allowed a piece of the brush to get into their food and injure a customer.

Although it is unclear whether the punitive damage award will be sustainable, it is apparent that the jury had a strong reaction to the restaurant’s actions in this case and wanted to send a clear message about that.

All of the attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool are extremely experienced and well versed in handling all types of personal injury claims. Indeed, personal injury law is the only type of law that we practice. We understand that your individual matter is your only case and the outcome can be critical to the future of yourself and your family. To us, there is no “simple” negligence case. There is almost always something more that can be done, or something performed differently or extraordinarily, that can help improve the ultimate outcome of your case.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries or death as a result of the negligence of another person or company, the attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool will give you a free consultation to determine your legal options. To see if you have grounds for a claim, call 212-406-1700 or contact us online.