A New Jersey appeals panel rules Hiram Jimenez's risk was "self-evident" when he lowered his head toward his sizzling plate

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated March 05, 2015 02:55 PM
Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty

A New Jersey appeals panel issued a ruling this week that was not so hot for one local man.

The panel ruled that Hiram Jimenez cannot sue Applebee’s after he burned his face on a sizzling plate of fajitas while lowering his head in prayer before his meal back in 2010.

“Here, the danger posed by a plate of sizzling hot food was self-evident,” the panel stated in its ruling issued Wednesday – precisely five years after the incident occurred at an Applebee’s in Westampton, New Jersey.

According to information in the ruling, Jimenez ordered steak fajitas on a “sizzling skillet,” and the waitress never warned him the plate was hot when she placed the dish in front of him. The ruling notes Jimenez described the dish as smoking, sizzling and “real hot.”

Before eating, Jimenez’s brother suggested they pray. Jimenez agreed, but after he bowed his head he heard a loud sizzle, followed by “a pop noise,” then felt a burning sensation on his face and left eye.

Court documents state Jimenez then panicked and knocked the plate onto his lap. He pushed away from the table with his right arm while attempting to remove the food on his lap with his left, but stopped pushing the table when he felt he had “pulled” something in his right arm. He also said he suffered burns on his face, neck and arms.

He later attempted to sue the chain. A New Jersey Superior Court judge threw out his initial suit in 2013, but he appealed the decision.

According to the appeals panel’s ruling, Jimenez said in deposition testimony that the alleged burning left no scarring.