Congressman Dennis Kucinich Sues Capitol Cafeteria After Being Attacked By Rogue Olive Pit

It’s not just ordinary citizens who file big-ticket lawsuits against eateries. Ohio congressman and occasional presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is suing a cafeteria in the Capitol Complex for $150,000 after a particularly harrowing run-in with an olive pit.

Kucinich filed the suit earlier this month against the operators of the cafeteria in the Longworth House Office Building, where many members of Congress have their offices. He claims he purchased a sandwich there in April 2008 (not a typo — this happened almost three years ago) that “contained dangerous substances, namely an olive pit, that a consumer would not reasonably expect to find in the final product served.”

From the suit:

Said sandwich wrap was unwholesome and unfit for human consumption in that it was presented to contain pitted olives, yet unknown to plaintiff, contained an unpitted olive or olives which plaintiff did not reasonably expect to be in the food prepared for him, and could not visually detect prior to consumption

Congressman Kucinich claims that chomping down on the pit caused “permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple surgical and dental procedures.” The lawsuit states that the plaintiff believes he is entitled to “recover damages, including but not limited to past and future dental and medical expenses, compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment and other damages.”

Check out a PDF of the civil complaint here.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich sues cafeteria over olive pit in sandwich [Cleveland.com]

Comments

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  1. Weighted Companion Cube says:

    I’m surprised he didn’t want a warning label on the sandwiches as well.

  2. HoneyB says:

    I think he should just step down as a congressman because obviously he’s unfit for duty with his dangerous experience with an olive pit. his traumatic experience has left him unfit to carry out his duties of constantly wagging his jaw.
    besides, he’s a congressman, all his dental work was probably free anyway. way to make life harder for the people working at said Cafeteria who will be taking the brunt of the financial strain if this case continues and concludes in the congressman’s favor.
    Job creation/sustainablity = fail

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    “permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple surgical and dental procedures.”

    You chipped a tooth, asshole. Deal with it.

    • DeepHurting says:

      If biting down on an olive pit causes $150,000 worth of pain and damage to your teeth, you had some pretty messed up teeth to begin with.

      Anyways, I’m sure the members of Congress don’t have dental insurance or anything.

      • Kate says:

        How much are your teeth worth? Just a few thousand each? Would a hundred grand be worth it to have to wear dentures the rest of your life?

        • paulthegeek says:

          This.

        • DeepHurting says:

          No, they’re not worth a few thousand each, as I’ve just had a tooth replaced and it ran about $800. I’m pretty sure I could have all my teeth replaced with adamantium caps for less that $150,000.

          Let’s get this straight. He didn’t get curb-stomped by a neo-nazi, he bit into something hard. Unless this pit was the size of one of those novelty jawbreakers, I doubt he damaged every tooth in his mouth and will have to wear dentures because if it.

        • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

          I doubt ol’ Dennie would be wearing a full set of dentures for a chipped tooth.

          At $4000 per dental inplant, 32 teeth * 4,000 = $128,000 for a whole MOUTHFUL of dental implants, and that’s being quite generous.

      • LaurelHS says:

        The “muItiple surgical and dental procedures” claim sounds strange to me too. I broke one of my teeth biting into a very crunchy cereal bar and I was fine after the dentist put a crown on it. This was not a pleasant experience, but I certainly wasn’t entitled to “compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment” from the company that made the cereal bar.

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    If the olives were pitted from the supplier, I don’t think it’s the Capitol Complex’s fault.

    I ate something and cracked my tooth when I was a kid. I should have sued my mom for serving me the mango. Maybe it’s not too late :D

  5. Polish Engineer says:

    The man should have been paying attention to what he was stuffing in his face instead of looking at the sky for UFO’s.

    I think I’m going to sue congress for the ulcers, hypertension, and occasional insanity induced by having to listen to their drivel.

  6. Emerson7 says:

    Walk it off, shorty!

  7. skwigger says:

    Poor guy probably needs to make some money to finance his next presidential campaign since no one else will.

  8. full.tang.halo says:

    If this congressman has any pants he needs dry-cleaned I know a great one…

    http://consumerist.com/2007/06/judge-suing-dry-cleaner-for-54-million-cries-in-court.html

  9. Sword_Chucks says:

    I thought I heard something from Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me about the terrorists going after the salad bar, maybe we’re under attack

  10. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I’m sorry, but Dennis Kucinich is ugly.

    • segfault, registered cat offender says:

      But is he as ugly as a hairless cat?

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        He kind of looks like one. But with hair. He looks like a hairy hairless cat.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      That isn’t a picture of Dennis Kucinich; it’s a picture of a bowl with seasoned olives, with a pink mystery substance in the foreground.

      but I totally understand your confusion.

    • paulthegeek says:

      Have you seen his wife?

      http://goo.gl/BB955

      You might show a little respect. :)

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        Meh. Not too shabby, but I’m a grumpy old man and my wife is hot, too. And I don’t even have a pile o’ cash and government benefits to use as bait like ol’ Dennie.

  11. Blueskylaw says:

    “contained dangerous substances, namely an olive pit, that a consumer would not reasonably expect to find in the final product served”

    I believe that he has a very strong case. No reasonable person would expect to find an olive pit in a sandwich containing olives.

    • ubermex says:

      Yeah, I don’t get all the people attacking him. It’s not reasonable to expect your food to injure you. 150,000 or 1000 is in the end up to a jury, but he has a case for SOME kind of compensation. I’m doubtful that 150,000 is the correct number, but there is a number and it isn’t zero.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Or bones in boneless chicken or cherry pits in pitted cherries..

  12. RedOryx says:

    Ugh. I live in Ohio, and was so hoping this would not get posted here because it really does not reflect well on my state.

  13. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    Looks like that sandwich…

    *Puts on sunglasses*

    …bit back.

    YYEAAAHHHHH

  14. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    I wonder how many times he’s eaten at the cafeteria since this harrowing incident in 2008.

  15. James says:

    jesus. in many other country people know foods well, what’s in them, and how to cook and prepare food.

    Here in the US, an olive, something naturally grown and used all over the world, is dangerous.

  16. Southern says:

    Must have been a very tramatic experience for him to wait 3 years to face his olive fear and sue..

  17. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    I’m sorry, but if someone put an unpitted olive in goddamn sandwich and I chipped a tooth on it, I would be rightfully pissed the hell off. If I had to go to a dentist, damn right I’d sue for the cost of that.

    What if he choked on the damn pit? It’s possible, unpitted olives do not, I say emphatically, DO NOT belong in sandwiches. You can’t see them.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Suing for the cost of the dental care? Sure.

      Suing for $150,000 and the loss of enjoyment, pain, and suffering? Bit much.

      • Southern says:

        He’s a congressmen. Free medical & dental. No cost to him. The taxpapers already paid for his dental work (if any were really needed).

      • TheSDBrat says:

        and would you really wait THREE years to bring forth a lawsuit????

        • varro says:

          There’s probably a three-year statute of limitations on tort actions in DC, and they wanted to file the case so everyone would get served on time.

          People can put any amount they want in the pleadings; it’s likely they’ll settle for much less. This case would probably settle for a multiple of Rep. Kucinich’s dental bills, like most tort cases; the complaint doesn’t have the actual damages he suffered (dental bills).

          Obligatory Simpsons quote: “Because of me, they have a warning.” (Many restaurants that serve olives and jars/olive bars have a warning that they may not have removed all the pits…)

          • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

            I think we should put a warning on all food:

            Warning: this food product is a choking hazard. Some people may be allergic to items contained within. This food product is an obesity hazard, and overconsumption may lead to heart disease and even death.

            This product contains chemicals known in the state of California to cause drowning.

            • varro says:

              Every person in the state should wear a t-shirt saying “This human contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer.”

        • Billy says:

          He was probably asking for a settlement during those three years. If there was no resolution, the answer is a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs.

          • PercyChuggs Was Found At JFK Airport says:

            Kramer: Anyway, it’s been two years. I mean isn’t there like statue of limitations on that?

            Jerry: Statute.

            Kramer: What?

            Jerry: Statute of limitations. It’s not a statue.

            Kramer: No, statue.

            Jerry: Fine, it’s a sculpture of limitations.

            Kramer: Just wait a minute…Elaine, Elaine! Now you’re smart, is it statue or statute of limitations?

            Elaine: Statute.

            Kramer: Oh, I really think you’re wrong.

    • skapig says:

      Yeah. It sucks biting down hard on something only to find that it doesn’t have the give expected. Choking hazard? Probably minimal since an olive in a wrap wouldn’t be too large. There was some dental damage done, but it wouldn’t be anywhere close to $150k even with padding for the hassle. Granted lawyers tend to strategically inflate their numbers.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Doesn’t Congress/the Senate have an awesome health insurance package? It doesn’t cover dental?

      • Billy says:

        I’m assuming that either:

        1) this amount is not covered by insurance and he’s trying to get back his out-of-pocket expenses (though I’m also assuming that this is unlikely)

        2) this amount is so outrageous that he expects that they can settle for the much lower actual out-of-pocket amount

        3) he really was overly-traumatized beyond his medical expenses. In that case, good luck getting that money.

        You gotta ask for it, though.

    • HeroOfHyla says:

      I agree! People are too quick to call lawsuits frivolous sometimes.

      • ubermex says:

        I’ve always found it odd that the consumerist comment crowd is so much more sympathetic to mildly inconvenienced customers than people who have been actually injured by a product.

        When tech support doesn’t help, that company sucks and should close down, but when you break something on a product, you’re dumb and were using it wrong, idiot.

  18. Consumeristing says:

    I’m pretty sure we can blame the customer on this one. Anyways, Kucinich makes his crazy at home!

  19. idx says:

    My dad was serving jury duty and broke his tooth on an olive pit provided by the courts cafeteria. I TOLD him he should have sued, but he didn’t, saying that it was an accident.

  20. jesirose says:

    *sigh*

    There is a difference between an accident and malice. This will simply cause the cafeteria to stop serving anything that might cause any damage. Get in line for your mush and water for the day.

    • Kate says:

      I was served some food from a cafeteria that had metal shavings in it, and I am very sure it was just an accident. Should I have just smiled and said, ‘That’s OK, it was just an accident’?

    • varro says:

      That’s one reason he sued for negligence….he’s alleging someone didn’t take reasonable care that the food wouldn’t damage his teeth.

      (It’s like a car accident case – if someone runs a red light or a stop sign, it’s negligence if they hit you – it’s very hard to prove that someone intentionally put pits in olives served at a cafeteria, but they should care enough to make sure the olives are pitted unless they’re whole olives.)

    • ubermex says:

      Do you think you have to have malice to be at fault in a lawsuit? I have a surprise for you.

  21. Southern says:

    It almost sounds (to me, anyway) like they’ve done something (else) to piss him off, so he’s using this 3 year old incident to “get even”.

  22. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    As the owner of two less teeth than I had a few years ago, I feel for Congressman Kucinich.

    I also know that you take the risk when you go out to eat that a piece of rouge material the sandwich is made of may appear in the food. That’s an unavoidable consequence, like a small piece of bone in a hamburger, or a label from a piece of fruit. However, if it had been something like a piece of glass or plate, self sealing stem bolt, or other foreign matter, THAT is when you complain and sue, because there are reasonable steps the maker can take to prevent those from entering the food stream.

    Also, aren’t Congressmen, Senators, etc… supposed to have awesome health care insurance/packages?

  23. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Okay, I can see him trying to get the cost of dental work…But isn’t “accidental dental injury” covered under the congressman’s truly awesome medical insurance? I don’t know what the government plan includes, but even my crappy and expensive insurance is something like this:

    “Dental injuries are treated like any other injury. Payment will not be made for any expenses incurred after 104 weeks of the accident date. An Expense is considered incurred on the date the Medical Care is rendered.”

    So, it’s probably already been paid for. So lets move on to what it actually cost, whether HE paid it, or his insurance paid it.

    I recently had some dental work done that included: 2 root canals, 8 teeth ground down, 6 porcelain crowns, 4 teeth pulled, and a 4 unit bridge. Estimates from oral surgeons ranged from $10,000 on up to $20,000. I am sure ol’ Dennie’s chipped tooth didn’t cost anywhere near that much. So, WTF?

    Dennis: I got my teeth fixed very nicely for under $3000 overseas. Airfare was $800, round trip. I’m sure you could get yours done for much less. You’d probably have enough left over to stay at a very nice resort with a couple of Asian hookers. ( I couldn’t afford that, because I have to pay for your awesome medical / dental / retirement benefits)

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Where did you get your work done? I got some done in Central Europe and it was pretty dirt cheap. On one of my visits the bill literally came out to about a dollar a minute for time and materials (exchange rate was in my favor).

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        Philippines. 4 lovely lady dentists, no pain.

      • varro says:

        Where in Central Europe? My brother-in-law’s wife’s family is from the Czech Republic (a small city in Bohemia, not Prague)…

  24. Madman says:

    To think this guy ran for president….

    Unbelievable – most be hard up for cash

  25. Beeker26 says:

    Sigh… so retarded.

  26. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I think he will have a hard time showing negligence. Defendants will probably will reach a settlement though because it’s cheaper than litigating.

  27. paulthegeek says:

    I once bit down on an olive pit that sneaked its way into my chicken wrap.

    It really…

    …REALLY sucks.

    Just sayin’.

  28. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    In before “Whagrabbbbbllll lib’rulz rabblerabblerabble.”

  29. stevied says:

    nut job suing about a pit.

  30. grumpygirl says:

    Hm.

    1) The taxpayers subsidize the hell out of the Capitol Cafeteria.
    2) The taxpayers provide them with highly subsidized 1st class medical & dental insurance.
    3) Now Kucinich wants the taxpayer-subsidized cafeteria to pay a horribly inflated claim which will just come back to the taxpayers again.

    And I used to think Kucinich was one of the honest guys. Well, live and learn.

  31. megafly says:

    I broke a tooth on an olive. It happens when you eat things with olives in them. I sucked it up and took it like a man. I didn’t sue anybody.

  32. Froggmann says:

    I sure as hell hope this congressman not only loses the suit but loses his seat as well over frivolous crap like this.

  33. oldwiz65 says:

    One could wish the permanent injuries prevented him from talking, period.

  34. iParadox{InLove} says:

    Pretty much the same thing happened to me when I ordered a Pizza from Pizza Hut, got black olives on the pizza and was happily munching away when “wham!” olive pit cracking one of my front teeth.

    I didn’t sue, went and had a filling put in. End of Story.

    Lesson Learned: Look for olive pits in anything that has olives in/on it.

  35. Infoseeker says:

    probably the cost for a new artificial ceramic tooth after the traumatizing encounter.

    chomp! y’ouch!

  36. Clyde Barrow says:

    Congressman Kucinich; thin skinned. Of course he didn’t find it to be reasonable, but shit happens. Move on.

  37. Mold says:

    He must be eveel!!! He am Liberal!! He not pay for companionship from wife!!!
    Having broken teeth on things like olive pits, I can empathize with his pain. Not su much the lawsuit. What is the story not being told? I ask this as our local paper ‘jess plumb fergot’ to print the DUI wreck of a ‘large employer’ executive into a neighbours property. If you read the newspaper article about the suit, it sounded like the landowner was being a greedy cuss. Ummm…DUI-Man just missed small children and smashed a goodly portion of the main dwelling. The suit was because bushJr refused to pay for the damage he caused…literally daring the family to ‘sue me’. They did.

  38. stock2mal says:

    I really like Kucinich, but this is beyond ridiculous. Stupid pansy.

  39. Forrest says:

    If you break a tooth due to someone else’s negligence, shouldn’t you be compensated? Sounds like the olive manufacturer should be liable as well.

  40. Robert Nagel says:

    Dennis is going to be out of a job next election. He is being gerrymandered out of his district to adjust for the 2 seats Ohio is losing. He is caught between two actual representatives with actual ability. He needs the money.

  41. Mcshonky says:

    Doesn’t he get free health and dental?

  42. jpdanzig says:

    I must say, I thought Kucinich had more sense and class than this. Good way to set an example for reigning in unnecessary litigation!

  43. Not Again says:

    Well, he sees UFOs. The pit was probably beamed down into the olive right before he bit down. Revenge for reporting his encounter.

  44. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    OK, I’m just a lowly peasant out her in flyover country, but even I know that you never, ever chomp down on olives, even pimento or garlic stuff ones (yum!), without a healthy dose of respect for the pit.

    Even the sliced up salad olives have a warning on the jar “may contain an occasional pit or fragment”.

  45. clickable says:

    I don’t know why everyone automatically assumes he’s such a jackass. Maybe he is, I don’t know. I assume he consulted an attorney, who probably talked it over with a partner or two and maybe even a PR expert or two, knowing this was going to hit the media. And between all of them, I think maybe they got the accumulated smarts of one average American, at least. Maybe it’s not such a ridiculous lawsuit, maybe we’re not privy to all the details, just the more headline-grabbing ones. Maybe the dental insurance he has won’t cover it because they feel it should be covered by the cafeteria’s insurance, or at least it should be claimed there first. Maybe the sum is an opening bid and they’ll accept less. Maybe the plan all along is to settle for a warning to be placed in future, the way some other packages have warnings. I wouldn’t judge him by these details because I don’t think it’s the whole story.

  46. CWG85338 says:

    If he were my kid, he’d get a backhand – and I never did that to any of my own kids. What a knucklehead!

  47. anarkie says:

    I hope the taxpayers do the right thing and vote him out. We don’t need idiots like this killing off businesses.

  48. nerble says:

    A) Isn’t congressional heath and dental 100% covered?
    B) He’s a democrat. Knock me over with a feather.

  49. Lereas says:

    Originally, I felt this was ridiculous, especially since I’m originally from Ohio.

    However, it later was revealed that he not only chipped a tooth, but it got infected and he ended up having three surgeries and extra teeth removed, etc etc. It wasn’t just a chipped tooth, and from what I was able to find, was for some reason not covered by insurance.

    While it sounds silly like the hot coffee lady, I think it’s a similar situation: when you know all of the facts, it turns out it’s not so frivolous. In the coffee story, most people cite it without knowing that the coffee machines were pumping out water that was FAR too hot to be served as coffee and that it gave the woman third degree burns requiring skin grafts…not just “omg, I spilled coffee, it’s hot…SUE MCDONALDS!”.