Widow of death in Benihana shrimp toss faults restaurant
BY ROBIN TOPPING
January 18, 2006, 12:21 AM EST
Jerry Colaitis was never the same after he wrenched his neck dodging a sizzling, flying shrimp at Benihana, his widow testified Tuesday in support of her $10-million suit against the restaurant chain.
Jacqueline Colaitis, on the witness stand in State Supreme Court in Mineola, said her husband, 47, couldn't play with his sons or enjoy vacations after injuring his neck in January 2001. The Old Brookville resident began seeing doctors until finally having surgery to remove a part of his vertebrae, she said. "He didn't do anything," Jacqueline Colaitis said, referring to family trips after the surgery. "He would spend time in the hotel room."
Colaitis' widow, 47, claims in her suit that Benihana is responsible for his death in November 2001 because he hyperextended his neck while trying to avoid hot food being thrown negligently by a chef at the table in the Munsey Park restaurant. Jerry Colaitis suffered from numbness and motor control problems afterward and had surgery at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan in June 2001.
He suffered from a high fever two weeks later and had an exploratory procedure that revealed nothing. But in November, he returned to the hospital with kidney failure, a respiratory infection and septic shock, according to a hospital document read to the jury by Colaitis' attorney, Andre Ferenzo of Roslyn. Doctors could not determine the source of the infection, the document said.
Charles Connick of Mineola, Benihana's attorney, contends the restaurant had nothing to do with the death, saying the infection was unrelated to his neck injury. He noted Colaitis had other chronic ailments, such as gout.
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