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You! be the Judge
The Story

The owner of the Chinese restaurant grabbed his waiters.
“Problem,” he said crisply. “The restaurant review just came out. Read this: ‘Best Chinese food ever!’”
“So, what’s the problem,” they asked, confused. “Isn’t that good?”
“Very good,” he replied. “But look at the line-up at the door. We’ve never had so many people. So I need you to get rid of our service stations. Put extra tables and chairs there instead.”
“So what are we going to serve on?” one of them asked.
“Use temporary tables,” came the reply. “Set it up when you need to and then take it away right after.”
A boss is always right, so the waiters did as they were told.
“Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Yeung, good to see you,” said the owner to his friends, who had been patiently waiting in line. “You’re table is ready… and how is Cindy? She sure is big for a 6-year old. How many will you be tonight?”
“Ten,” replied Mr. Yeung as he was being led to his table. “Just some friends coming to celebrate their little Danielle’s seventh birthday.”
Once everyone had arrived, the group was waiting for their food when Danielle dropped a satin bag filled with pot-pourri. It rolled under the table, out of her reach.
“Don’t cry,” consoled Cindy as she jumped off her chair and crawled under the table. “I’ll get it for you.”
At the same time, the waiter returned, set up his temporary table and placed bowls of hot bean soup.
But just as the waiter started serving the soup, Cindy crawled out.
Startled, the waiter dropped the bowls. They landed on Cindy, causing first and second degree burns to her neck, shoulder and chest.
Cindy’s parents sued the restaurant owner for the injuries she suffered.

In the Courtroom

“I want to be compensated, you honour,” cried Cindy’s mom. “The restaurant admitted the accident was their fault. So we want to be compensated for emotional damage Cindy has suffered, and for the all other costs: keeping the house clean, extra care! And what about future surgeries?”

“Thus is not our fault,” argued the restaurant owner. “Cindy was running around the restaurant, completely out of control. Her parents should have been more diligent. And I never admitted any responsibility. The most I could have said was that it was partially Cindy’s fault!”

Is the restaurant responsible for Cindy’s injuries? You! Be The Judge. Then look below for the court’s decision.

The Decision

“You’re getting $31,000,” ruled the judge. “Since I believe Cindy was under control at all times, it’s not her fault. The restaurant was too crowded, and should have foreseen that someone might bump against the temporary table. I therefore think it’s fair to award damages for Cindy’s emotional scarring, for the extra care she received, and for future surgery.”

Today’s column is based on a case from British Columbia. The characters and the scenarios are fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. If you have a similar problem, consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and syndicated columnist. Copyright 2016 Haika Enterprises, all rights reserved.BC26-12

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