February 10, 2006, - 1:40 pm

Dumb Lawsuit of the Week: Did Flying Benihana Shrimp Kill?

By Debbie Schlussel
On this site, we’ve documented the continuing American crisis of the litigation explosion. It is a $10 billion tax on American society. The latest offender is Plaintiff Jacqueline Colaitis.
Not eating shellfish, we guess we will never have the problem that Colaitis thinks killed her husband . . . Benihana flying shrimp. We call people like her, the “ludicrous litigeratti.”

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According to the New York Times, Ms. Colaitis says her husband, Long Island furrier Jerry Colaitis, died because he was trying to keep a flying, sizzling shrimp from hitting him. So, she did what any red-blooded, attempted get-rich-quick American does. She sued Benihana, the Japanese steakhouse chain, for $16 million. Incredible.
In January 2001, Coalitis had dinner at a Munsey, New York Benihana. The chef at his table, he feared, had flung a shrimp near him. To avoid it, he dodged it and injured his neck. Mr. Colaitis then began to complain of neck pain, underwent two spinal operations, contracted a severe infection and died at age 46.
It’s sad Colaitis died, but at some point he took responsibility for the course of his life after dinner at Benihana. It’s impossible that Benihana is either responsible or could have foreseen this bizarre turn of events.
This absurd case was before the Mineola, New York jury, yesterday. We’re glad the jury had the good sense to just say no to this stupid litigation. Cases like this are what clog our nation’s court systems and keep genuinely aggrieved parties from getting speedy justice. Lawsuits like this–and the litigation explosion in general–also mean higher taxes and more expensive goods from the defendant to pay for the cost of attorneys.
Despite the win, don’t be surprised if the cost of your next steak at Benihana goes up. And thank Jacqueline Colaitis and her lawyer, Andre L. Ferenzo. Paying lawyers to defend a case in a 16-day trial–like this one–isn’t cheap.

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