Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Congressman Dennis Kucinich Sues House Cafeteria for $150,000 – UPDATE – Settlement

According to the website Gawker, Congressman Dennis Kucinich is suing Restaurant Associates and three other companies involved in running and supplying the Longworth cafeteria after Kucinich bought a sandwich in April 2008 and bit into it only to find an unpitted olive that cracked a tooth.

Screen shot 2011-01-26 at 11.12.19 AM.png

Kucinich and I go way back. He was elected Mayor of Cleveland in 1977. He served in that position until 1979. At thirty-one years of age, he was the youngest mayor of a major city in the United States. In 1977 I was elected to the Pullman City Council at age 19. At that time, I may well have been the youngest elected official in the United States.

Dennis, why didn’t you call? Perhaps he figured I would not have taken the case?

UPDATE From The Detroit News:

Ohio’s Kucinich settles olive-pit-in-sandwich lawsuit

Cleveland — Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Friday that he settled a lawsuit filed against a Capitol Hill cafeteria over a split tooth the Ohio Democrat says he suffered when he bit into an olive pit in a sandwich wrap. The lawsuit filed in early January in Washington had sought $150,000 in damages from companies involved with the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount that reflected out-of-pocket costs, according to the parties involved.

  • Greg

    Better question: Why aren’t you in the House? Marler 2012!

  • Sam

    Bill,
    Based on what you know, do you think Mr. Kucinich will prevail, and would (should?) he get the full amount of $150,000?
    That seems to me like a lot of money for a broken tooth… I’m pretty sure no insurance agency would pay that much for treatment of his injuries!

  • Its hard to determine damages with out more facts. However, biting down on a hard object can cause tooth and jaw damage. It does not seem reasonable that a pit would be in an olive in a sandwich.

  • doc raymond

    Bill is probably not in the House because you have to run for re-election every so often, and are just one of many. Senate with a 6 year term and one out of 100 votes seems more appropriate for him.

  • Jim Colwell

    Well, I’ve always been told that you must expect a pit in an olive every so often. Pitting olives is done mechanically and the results aren’t 100% verified. Similar to we’ve always been told to check your dried beans as occasionally you’ll find a stone.
    Now I’ve been in food all my life, (not a lawyer) but again we’ve been taught that some natural products i.e. rocks and pits will occasionally be in the ingredients. The preparer (notice i did not say Chef) should have checked the olives as the salad mix was prepared, but I can easily see how a pit could have slipped by in the normal expected course of events that lead to an olive sandwich being prepared for sale.
    I spent a decade in Cleveland, and hold Mr. Kucinich in high regard for some of his more principled stands, but this lawsuit seems like the example case of frivolous lawsuit.

  • effect

    It may seem less frivolous and more reasonable for the individual who experiences direct effects of dental damage and the intense lingering pain which often occurs from seemingly trivial incidents. If they are advertising pitted olives, or whatever, than it is fully reasonable and right to expect just that and not olives with pits. That is why they bother advertising them as pitted olives.
    Seems fair amount to ask and receive. Especially with the oftentimes high expenses of dental work and resulting pain, and perhaps if he wins it will help improve the quality control of the people making and selling such items as they know it could result in injury to people expecting what the pitted olives they claim to exist in their foods.
    And Dennis Kucinich is one of, if not the most integral, highly principled and honest people in politics. Of the the few. Hopefully more like him will replace the morally and overall corrupt people occupying our government and corporations which run them.

  • My wife got t-boned in an auto accident two years ago and we are having to fight tooth and claw for 1/3 this amount. She will never walk without pain again. She will never raise her arm above her chest again without pain. She cannot sleep on her right side any more and never will be able to again. There is no dispute that the other driver was 100% at fault. That was conceded during the discovery process.
    Mr. Kucinich got excellent dental care courtesy of the US Government. His pain was relatively brief and there is no lasting loss of bodily function. I’d be tempted to give the commissary $10,000 for having to deal with a jerk who broke a tooth and then claimed it was caused by an olive pit in his sandwich in order to pursue a frivolous lawsuit. Of course, IANAL, but if Kucinich can get this $150 g’s for a lousy broken tooth, the $50 grand that Allstate is offering is beginning to look like a deliberate insult.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    I would hope that Mr. Kucinich first tried to work the situation out with the owners of the restaurant. Seems very odd that a Senator would have to resort to such matters.

  • Randy Francisco

    The gentleman who got t-boned probably needs a better attorney. When they say, “you are in good hands with Allstate”, you should be aware of what part of your anatomy they will have their hands around.