Choking on the Splinters: Couple Sues Restaurant Over Splinter Injury

Categories: Courts

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While everyone has been focused on Japan, a tale of true tragedy has gone unreported -- the tale of Jesus and Cynthia Montalvo of Katy, and of the splinter that very nearly tore their lives apart.

In a suit they self-filed in Harris County District Court last week, the Montalvos detail how a night that was supposed to be filled with joy and reasonably priced chain-restaurant fare at Texas Roadhouse suddenly took a dangerous turn for the worse.

The couple, along with their young son, had just finished their meal -- a celebration of their wedding anniversary -- when Cynthia, without even giving it a second thought, tried to open the door on her way out.

"The door was a made of rough wood and was not properly finished but maintain a rustic look," the suit articulately explains, before going on to state elsewhere that the floor by the door was littered with peanuts. "As a result of the door not being properly finished, and combined with poor lighting, in that area, splinters protruding on the door were not seen by [Cynthia] and she embedded a splitter underneath her fingernail when she pushed the door open.[sic] The splinter immediately caused excruciated pain, [Cynthia] began to scream in pain and jumping up and down, she was holding the injured hand while doing this...this injury necessitated that [Cynthia] be immediately taken to the hospital for emergency care."

Which, of course, sounds perfectly reasonable by any standard. But when we tried to get more information from Jesus Montalvo, like how long his wife's Regarding Henry-like recovery must have been, or how much blood was spilled on that peanut-strewn floor, Montalvo shut us down and referred us to the suit.

The suit claims that "the plaintiff was taken to the emergency room, where her finger was injected with needles, cut open, squeezed and causing more pain in order to remove the splinter. Although some of the splinter was removed, [Cynthia] feels that there is still wood imbedded in her finger, but due to the fear of further pain, she is terrified of the prospect of having to go through that medical procedure again. Consequently, [Cynthia] has difficulty typing, and doing many of the household shores, and even driving causes her pain and discomfort" [sic]). (Based on that last sentence, we totally believe the "difficulty typing" part).

Reached in Hawaii where they were celebrating their anniversary on peanut-free beaches, Jesus explained that, "It's not a major injury, but it was a tremendous amount of pain...and it's really causing her, you know, problems. She's a secretary and she uses her hands, you know, to type and do all kinds of stuff like that."

But then he grew suspicious of Hair Balls' questions, saying, "You sound like an attorney more than a reporter." For a moment, we thought maybe we misunderstood, and by "splinter," the Montalvos meant "foot-long steel spike through the eyeball," and when we tried to understand why something short of that would necessitate a trip to the ER, Montalvo told us, "Because you weren't the one that got a splinter stuck behind your fingernail...almost half an inch, you know, in length. That's very, very, very, very painful."

Before slamming down the phone, Montalvo once again voiced his concern that we were "pro-Texas Roadhouse." [Note: we are Texas Roadhouse-neutral, but we're staunchly anti-douche.]

Besides the typical past/future physical pain and suffering, the Montalvos are seeking $148,800 in damages for "disfigurement in the past" and disfigurement that, "in reasonable probabilty," Cynthia will suffer in the future.

Adding an unexpected "ick" factor to the proceedings, the couple is also suing for "loss of consortium" -- legalese for "not able to get it on" -- on behalf of Jesus, which makes us wonder just exactly what the fuck went on in the Montalvos' bedroom before the splinter.

The Montalvos share their Katy address with a company called Shoot Back Concealed Handgun License, whose sole instructor is "Jay Montalvo, a retired, 24 year veteran HPD, and now a Pct 6 Deputy Investigator...." The site also states that Montalvo was an Army major and ROTC instructor at the University of Houston. (If you sign up for a class by March 26, you'll get a free 10,000-volt stun gun, presumably to ward off splinter-wielding rapists.)

The site's registry information lists Jay Montalvo's number as the same number the Montalvos include in paperwork filed with their lawsuit.

The Montalvos are seeking a jury trial. We hope, for their sake, the jury isn't stacked with pro-Texas Roadhouse types.

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If they eat at the Texas Roadhouse out in Katy, then I've ate there maybe two dozen times in my life.. I know exactly what the two doors at the front are like. I've never once had a problem with them. I couldn't tell you how rough or smooth the doors are, because i've never thought they were a problem. Sure, the lighting isn't great in the little entranceway, but it's not so dark that you can't see what you're doing.


What scum. I bang up my hands at least once a week - splinters, razor blades, hammer, smashed in dishwasher door, etc.


They will get something. The restaurant will pay what an attorney calls "nuisance money;" a few thousand dollars to just go away. Even if the restaurant know that it will win, it will still cost maybe as much as $10,000 to defend itself in court. It's cheaper to just settle out of court, pay the Montalvos a few thousand dollars and move on. Oh, the attorney will get about 40% of that for doing nothing more than just writing a letter to the defendant threatening a lawsuit. This is exactly why we need a "loser pays" law here in Texas. If you lose a lawsuit, you pay the other side's attorney fees and court costs. How many frivolous lawsuits do you think will be filed if we had a "loser pays" law?

Eric Nordstrom
Eric Nordstrom

A surprisingly articulate pleading from a pro se litigant. However, somebody needs to remind Constable Montalvo that, by signing pleadings purporting to assert claims belonging to his wife, he is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

David Valentin
David Valentin

I can't believe these people! Grossly suing a company over a splinter! I was hit by a car and still haven't seen any money. I hope they get laughed at in court!

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