Naperville Business Attorney on Court’s Ruling to Allow Customer Safety Suit Against Popular Chicago Hot Dog Stand

customer safety, Naperville business law attorneyWhen you own a business, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of your customers, vendors, and anyone else who visits your establishment. Of course, exactly how far that responsibility extends is often relatively unclear until challenged by a formal claim that your company failed to provide adequate protection from harm.

In my practice as a business attorney, I have helped hundreds of clients develop a plan for keeping their premises safe and protecting visitors from injury. When a patron or guest is hurt on your property, it is important for you to be aware of your potential legal liability, as the owners of a well-known hot dog stand are now finding out, thanks a to a ruling by an Illinois appeals court.

Hot Dogs With a Little Extra

In the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, The Wiener’s Circle has been a fixture for more than 30 years. The hot dog stand has become known not just for its food or its prices, but also for its attitude gimmick. When customers place their order—especially during late-night hours—the staff generally responds with crude, vile insults delivered as part of the eatery’s shtick. The back-and-forth between patrons and staff is part of the appeal, particularly for those looking for a snack following a night drinking in local bars. Having appeared on Conan and other television shows, including its own reality show on TruTV, The Wiener’s Circle proudly embraces the distinction as “Chicago’s rudest hot dog stand.”

Unfortunate Injury

Back in 2011, a Wiener’s Circle customer broke her wrist and elbow when another especially unruly patron stumbled into her and knocked her to the floor. According to her 2012 lawsuit against the eatery, the other customer’s behavior far exceeded the normal, playful—albeit crude—banter of the establishment. The woman claims that employees threatened the drunk man with a wire grill brush and pepper spray, antagonizing him to the point where he became a danger to other customers.

Lawsuit Reinstated

A Cook County judge threw out the woman’s suit in 2012, but the woman and her attorneys appealed. This week, the 1st District of the Appellate Court of Illinois ruled that the lawsuit is permitted to continue, saying that the hot dog stand’s gimmick, combined with the fact that a large majority of patrons are intoxicated during late-night hours creates a reasonable foreseeability of injury. The ruling went on to state that when a business intentionally creates a volatile environment, there is a heightened duty of care to provide for the safety of patrons and visitors. While the court’s decision does not expressly find the eatery liable for the woman’s injuries, it opens the door to continued litigation or a settlement.

Protect Your Business

As you go about day-to-day operations in your company, you probably do not hurl insults at your customers and expect them the respond in kind. However, the Wieners Circle case highlights the importance of ensuring that those who visit your business are kept free from foreseeable injury. To learn more about protecting the safety of your customers as well as your business investment, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule a consultation at The Gierach Law Firm today.



Chicago Tribune