Famous Long Island and Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger lost a bid to have a slip-and-fall case against it dismissed when Nassau County Supreme Court Justice F. Dana Winslow found that circumstantial evidence supported plaintiff’s proposition that the brown oily substance she slipped on was steak juices one of its waiters spilled. In Chang v. Peter Luger of Long Island Inc., NYLJ 1202567877271, decided August 9, 2012, the plaintiff slipped on a step leading to one of the restaurant’s dining rooms and alleged that the restaurant was liable for negligently maintaining its premises. Based upon the decision, it seems that all the plaintiff knew about what she slipped on was that it was a dark-brownish oily substance. But her attorney made the case with an excellent deposition of the restaurant’s manager.
Specifically, the manager testified that waiters typically carry steak to customers on platters that are over a foot wide and no more than two inches deep, that those platters normally contain a mixture of steak juice and butter, and that waiters typically carry two platters at a time. He further testified that generally over ninety percent of customers at the restaurant order steak, that the restaurant probably served between 500 and 600 customers on the evening of the incident, that the restaurant contained three dining rooms in which customers eat steak, that one of the dining rooms, known as the “London Room,” had eight tables and a seating capacity of thirty-two people, that each table probably seated at least two or three sets of customers for dinner that evening, that the restaurant opened at 11:00 a.m. that day and closed at approximately 10:00 p.m., and that waiters bringing food to customers in the London Room must carry the food down the same step upon which plaintiff slipped and fell.
The court also found that in light of the absence from the record of any evidence of an alternative source of a dark-brownish oily substance, a jury could reasonably infer that if such a substance was present, then that substance was a mixture of steak juice and butter, and one of defendant’s employees spilled it there from a platter that he or she was carrying.
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