The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

New China Wok Tossed Woman Through Glass Door Over Sauce Packets

There is a common refrain of complaint amongst us full-figured types: Why, oh why, do fast-food and casual dining places only give you one packet of sauce? If a customer just ordered 20 chicken nuggets, shouldn't it be obvious that more than one Sweet and Sour packet is required to enjoy the full flavor and tastiness that is in those processed poultry treats?

Most of the time, such requests are met with either rolled eyes or a demand for $0.10 per packet. New China Wok, at least according to Tiawanda Shears, instead decided to beat the crap out of her and throw her through a glass door, reports Courthouse News Service.

But did she get her sauce packets?

Spears claims that she placed a to-go order; when it was handed over, it only had one sauce packet. When she politely requested more sauce, an employee of the store, Hui Tian Wu, allegedly became enraged and attacked her. He pushed her out of the front of the restaurant and then slammed her violently into the glass door, causing it to shatter and Spears to severely injure her leg.

We're still waiting on the sauce, bro.

She is suing her attacker, as well as the restaurant, for both battery and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

It is truly amazing how many personal injury lawsuits include claims for emotional distress, without regard to whether there is even a chance that they will win on the claim. It's added almost as often as the lawyer adds the word "plaintiff" to a complaint.

In many states, and arguably even in Illinois for a time, some physical manifestation of the emotional distress was necessary. Ulcers, violent nausea, or something more than, "I'm sad ... and I can't sleep!" was needed. However, in 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court lowered the bar and declared that neither physical manifestations or medical expert testimony was necessary. The jury can rely on their own experience and the other evidence instead.

Does that mean it's any easy claim to tack on for bonus points? Not necessarily. In the 2009 case, the plaintiff's deceased baby was stuck, halfway in her body, mid-delivery, for over an hour. Emotional trauma seems like a certainty in such a situation.

For Ms. Spears, though the alleged attack would certainly be upsetting at the time and cause severe physical pain, it's going to take some pretty extreme testimony to sustain such a claim. Recurrent nightmares about rouge ninja restaurant employees beating her to a living pulp might suffice, but it'll depend on whether the jury buys it.

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