Tuesday, November 16, 2010

new flavor soup at claim jumper,condom soup?

Settlement reached in suit against Claim Jumper restaurant chain over condom in soup

SANTA ANA — A 51-year-old Mission Viejo man today settled his lawsuit against the Claim Jumper restaurant chain over a claim he chewed on a condom found in his French onion soup.

The terms of the settlement, which was reached after nearly three days of negotiations, were not disclosed.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey T. Glass ordered both sides to try to settle the case before it was scheduled to go to trial this week.

"The settlement is not to be construed as an admission of liability by either party," according to a joint statement issued by attorneys representing Philip Hodousek and his wife Sherry and Irvine Claim Jumper Restaurants.

"Claim Jumper sincerely regrets, and apologizes for, statements which have appeared in the media which have cast Mr. and Mrs. Hodousek, in an unfavorable light. With the conclusion of this litigation, Claim Jumper wishes the plaintiffs well and sincerely hopes that they are successful in putting this regrettable incident behind them," the statement said.

Joan Gladstone, a spokeswoman for the company, issued a statement to the Orange County Register earlier this month, that said the company found no evidence to support any of the allegations by the Hodouseks of a foreign object in the soup or that there was any employee involvement or wrongdoing.

The Hodouseks, who are real estate brokers, went to the Claim Jumper restaurant at 27845 Santa Margarita Parkway in Mission

Viejo for Easter brunch April 12, 2009, according to their attorneys' trial brief. They joined their teenage daughter and Sherry Hodousek's parents for the meal.

Philip Hodousek ordered his favorite, French onion soup, among other foods, according to the trial brief.

"He immediately began eating the cheese, which was spread across the top portion of the bowl," according to the trial brief. "As he ate the soup, the family was engaged in conversation.

"Suddenly, he felt what he believed was tough cheese on one side of this mouth. When he could not chew it into pieces, Philip commented to his family that it felt like rubber. He then spit it out, spooned it onto a napkin, at which time his wife said, `Oh my God, it's a condom.' "

The restaurant's general manager initially said he thought it was a rubber glove, which the employees use when preparing food, according to the trial brief. The manager untied the piece of plastic, which was in a knot, and realized it was a condom, according to the trial brief.

"He apologized, and indicated he had `never seen anything like this.' Philip headed for the restroom and vomited," according to the trial brief

The object was sent to a laboratory in North Carolina and preliminary tests revealed female DNA on it, according to the trial brief.

The Hodouseks never made any monetary demands and accused the company of treating them "as scammers and frauds," according to the trial brief.

The couple claimed in their trial brief that Claim Jumper alleged they put the condom in the soup to get money to help them pay off $300,000 in back taxes. That tax dispute has been resolved "for a fraction" of that amount, according to the trial brief.

The couple sued for emotional distress and claimed the incident affected their relationship so much they were afraid to engage in intercourse for fear of contracting a disease.

Claim Jumper attorneys claimed in their trial brief that the company did nothing wrong and were prepared to argue the couple brought on their own troubles by going to the Orange County Register with their story, an allegation the couple denies.

The company's attorneys also argued in a trial brief that Philip Hodousek changed his story about his encounter with the condom several times.

The company earlier tried to resolve the case with an offer of $5,001 to Sherry Hodousek and $25,001 to Philip Hodousek.

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