While a patron may expect and hope for a hot meal when dining out at a restaurant, there is a degree to which food may be considered too hot. In the case of Nathanael Smith, he was served a dinner roll that physically burned his hand. Last year, Nathanael was in Ozark, Missouri with his family, on vacation. They had decided to eat dinner at Lambert’s Café, which is famous for tossing hot rolls at the customers. According to the lawsuit recently filed against the Café, a waiter had placed the hot roll in front of Nathanael. The waiter had tossed a roll to Nathanael’s father and handed a roll to his mother, but physically placed Nathanael’s roll down in front of him to pick up. When Nathanael reached for the piping hot roll, he reacted in a way that is directly linked to his brain injury. He clenched his fist around the roll, unable to let go.
Following a training accident two years ago, the 22-year-old Army veteran was left mentally disabled; and is bound to a wheelchair. Nathanael’s speech is limited, but he is still able to communicate. The roll placed in front of Nathanael was so unnecessarily hot; but instead of releasing his grasp, his new response to pain forced his hand to tighten around the hot ball of dough. Typically, a person with stable senses would avoid the hot item. Nathanael’s severe brain injury caused him to react differently.
Nathanael’s father rushed to remove the burning bun from his son’s clenched fist, piece by piece. The dining staff offered cold cloths to ease the pain. The efforts of both Nathanael’s father and the Café staff did not prevent the burn blister that was quickly forming on the Army vet’s hand. Nathanael was taken to the hospital but suffered second degree burns. Shortly following the incident, the Smith family left the Ozarks early to go back home to Florida. The family has since filed a claim on Nathanael’s behalf, naming Lambert’s Café as the negligent party in the personal injury lawsuit.