Friday, February 17, 2006


Jury Clears Flying Shrimp of Death

Every once in a while, the legal system has a sudden attack of common sense:

MINEOLA, New York (AP) -- A jury took two hours Thursday to reject a widow's claim that her husband's death resulted from an injury he suffered while ducking a piece of flying shrimp at a Benihana steakhouse.

The family of Jerry Colaitis, 47, had sought $10 million from the Japanese steakhouse chain, accusing it of direct responsibility for his death in 2001.

Benihana chefs are famous for their fast and furious knives and food-tossing stunts.

The lawsuit claimed the Long Island man wrenched his neck after a chef tossed a piece of shrimp at a family birthday party.

In the months after the party, Colaitis was treated by several doctors for various ailments and underwent surgery to relieve numbness in his arm.

Five months after that, he checked into a hospital with a high fever and died. His family said the fever was a complication of the surgery.

"This man was a rock," Colaitis family attorney Andre Ferenzo told the jury.

"Benihana and only Benihana set in motion the forces ... that led to his death."

The family claimed the unidentified chef tossed shrimp at the partygoers three times -- the last time at Colaitis -- and refused to stop even after their pleas.

Benihana attorney Charles Connick disputed the notion that a chef who relies on tips from customers would ignore such a request.

"I scratch my head and I wonder, is it conceivable to you?" Connick asked the jury.

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