Hot tea spilled in restaurant causes burns, irreparable scarring. Jury awards $140,000. Los Angeles County.


Waitress in a cabaret bringing hot water for tea, spills it onto patron's lap, causing burns and scarring. 

The Case

  • Case Name: Williams v. Reynolds dba M Bar & Restaurant
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC 477082
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, April 03, 2012
  • Type of Case: Food Handling, Premises Liability
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michael Harwin
  • Plaintiffs:
    Lindsay Williams, 24, nurse
  • Defendants:
    Joe Reynolds dba M Bar & Restaurant
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $140,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $107,410
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 25% comparative negligence on non-party patron who bumped waitress
  • Economic Damages:

    Medicals: $5,643

    Lost wages: $4,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff to augment judgment to include interest and expert costs per CCP 998 and CCP 3291

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Kusion & Campana by Eugene L. Kusion, Redondo Beach.
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Law Offices of Steven Sandler by Steven Sandler, Woodland Hills.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Mark Burns, BSME, JD, CXLT, CPSI, safety engineer, Marina del Rey.
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On November 3, 2011 plaintiff, a 24-year-old nurse, went to see a show at defendant's cabaret restaurant. While plaintiff was sitting at her booth, a waitress spilled a mug of steaming tea water on plaintiff's lap.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant was negligent in the operation and management of the premises in that it controlled all aspects of the kitchen,food preparation, delivery of drinks, seating of patrons and admission of patrons onto the premises. That the training of employees was below standards and that the waitress failed to follow safety rules and policy in delivering the tea water.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That another patron bumped into waitress and caused the incident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    6" X 6" second-degree burn to thigh with residual scarring that cannot be corrected by plastic surgery.

  • Small 2" spatter burn on abdomen.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $5,643
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None, as nothing can be done for scar.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $4,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $75,000
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $100,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $12,000 (at mediation)
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: $30,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff expert testified that the incident was easily preventable had employees been properly trained as to how to take hot drinks onto the customer floor (i.e., using tray, container with lid for drink, assuring safe water temperature, assuring all aisleways clear of people and chairs.)