Tech law is not always about macro-level global headlines like drones, autonomous vehicles, or Edward Snowden. No, sometimes it’s just about a guy trying to enjoy dinner at Chili’s.
Those who work in the food industry have been known to get back at rude or annoying customers from time to time by doing inappropriate things to their food. Take for instance the KFC employee who licked mashed potatoes before serving them to customers, or the Taco Bell employee who licked a bunch of hard taco shells. I think every one of my friends who has worked in the food industry has cautioned me to be polite and kind to my waiter because they might spit in my food.
A couple in New York could have really used that advice. A few months ago the Yerdons were enjoying an evening out a Chili’s when they discovered their broccoli was undercooked. Then, as if to add insult to injury, the chips they ordered never came. Apparently, by the time they left their waiter was irritated because when Mr. Yerdon was in the car on the way home the lid came off his to go cup and what he saw inside disgusted him. Floating on top of his soda was spit, and not just normal spit, but “a loogie”, as he described it to his local newspaper.
Now, Mr. Yerdon did what any self-respecting human would have done and went right back to Chili’s to speak with the manager. When he got there he was given some coupons and thoroughly apologized to. This is where Mr. Yerdon differs from your average disgruntled customer. Instead of taking his coupons and never returning that Chili’s again, Mr. Yerdon went to the police department. When he showed the police officers his soiled soda they opened an investigation. During this investigation DNA samples were taken from both Mr. Yerdon and his waiter at Chili’s that night. The results just came back last week and the DNA of George Lamika, the Yerdon’s waiter that fateful evening, was a match for the DNA in Mr. Yerdon’s soda. This condemning evidence was used to convict Mr. Lamika of disorderly conduct and sentence him to one year of conditional discharge and a $125 fine.
One might think that after several months and the individual at fault being brought to justice that the Yerdon’s would be ready to move on with their lives, but that is not the case. The Yerdon’s, using the DNA evidence, have recently filed a lawsuit in state court against Lamika, the owner of the Chili’s where the incident happened, and Chili’s parent company, Brinker International. The complaint alleges tort liability to all parties for emotional distress. Mr. Yerdon asserts that he was in fear that he may have contracted HIV or Hepatitis from the bodily fluids in his beverage (a note for readers: you cannot contract HIV through saliva).
Let this story serve as a cautionary tale to any angst filled waiters in the world:
DNA testing is now available to the masses, so you may want to find other, less traceable, ways to get back at your most annoying dinner guests.