Judge tosses out Applebee’s face-burning fajitas lawsuit

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TRENTON, NJ –  A New Jersey appellate court says a man cannot seek damages for burns he suffered while bowing his head in prayer over a sizzling steak fajita skillet at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Westhampton, N.J., near Philadelphia.

Hiram Jimenez filed a lawsuit in 2010, seeking damages against the Apple American Group, the franchisee that owns and operates the restaurant, according to Applebee’s.  The ruling, made public Wednesday, upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed his lawsuit. The man claimed a waitress didn’t warn him the dish was hot, but the lower court found the food posed an “open and obvious” danger.

The man said he bowed his head, then heard a loud sizzle followed by a grease pop. He then felt a burning sensation in his left eye and on his face.

The man said he panicked and knocked the food on his lap, causing more burns. The burns didn’t cause scarring.

The suit brings to mind various high profile lawsuits versus restaurants. An Albuquerque woman successfully sued McDonald’s in 1992 after getting severely burned by coffee. A Las Vegas woman was less successful in her 2005 lawsuit versus Wendy’s after finding a severed finger in her chili, because police determined it was a hoax.

CNN and the Associated Press contributed to this story.