TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) – A woman who claimed a glass shard from a shattered dish injured her eye lost her appeal March 14 in a lawsuit against The Cheesecake Factory.
The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a judge correctly dismissed the woman's complaint over findings that her treating physician failed to establish a link to the dish fragment and her alleged eye injury.
Naomi Piper was seeking damages from The Cheesecake Factory due to alleged injuries to Piper’s left eye. Piper claimed she suffered the injury when a server accidentally dropped a dish about six feet from where she was sitting while having lunch in the Edison, New Jersey, restaurant. Piper claimed a fragment from the shattered dish hit her in the face and damaged her eye.
The opinion states the case was submitted to mandatory arbitration but Piper rejected the arbitrator’s award and filed for a trial. Lawyers for The Cheesecake Factory moved for summary judgment, and the judge dismissed the complaint, finding the plaintiff’s treating physician did not establish a causal link between the fragment and her alleged eye injury.
Piper appealed, arguing the judge erred, but the appeals court disagreed, noting evidence that medical testimony from Piper’s doctor shows she had pre-existing blepharitis and dry eyes, which can leave patients particularly sensitive to changes on the eye’s surface, the opinion states.
The court ruled that Piper’s doctor did not give any evidence that he found a dish fragment or other foreign matter in her eye or evidence of a corneal abrasion.
The defendant’s expert witness also examined Piper’s eye and her medical records and testified that other eye conditions, rather than a corneal abrasion, were causing her symptoms and that he found no evidence of trauma to her eye, the opinion states.
The court found the plaintiff’s doctor did not show any evidence to satisfy the burden of proof and noted an absence of medical evidence establishing a causal link between trauma and Piper’s symptoms.