Recently, a Philadelphia jury awarded waitress Kristin Lisi $3 million following a lawsuit over an assault in 2016 at Rittenhouse Square’s Scarpetta restaurant. According to court documents, Lisi suffered several injuries, including nerve damage from a torn rotator cuff, after a man tried to kiss her forcibly.
The incident was caught on the restaurant’s surveillance video and reported immediately to management. The police arrived at the scene, but the man who tried to kiss Lisi, Gregory Englesbe, was not charged.
Too close for comfort
The jury took four hours to render the $3 million verdict, which included $2.4 million in punitive damages. Englesbe never disputed the kiss and accepted the blame for harming Lisi, but he also said he did not believe his actions caused such extensive injuries.
“The plaintiff’s injuries are either non-existent, exaggerated, and/or pre-existing,” his court papers said.
The amount dictated by the jury included the context of Englesbe’s personal wealth and the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. An appeal is anticipated, but Lisi’s legal team is confident she will receive the damages she deserves.
According to The Inquirer, lawsuits like this are common in the restaurant industry. Many workers experience actions that cross the line from customers, and restaurant owners do not have specific standards to address these situations. The inconsistent practices put both female and male employees at risk for personal injuries or sexual harassment.
Drew Carballo, general manager of Scarpetta in Philadelphia, did not comment on the current policies addressing harassment by customers. Hopefully, restaurants will see the lawsuit as an opportunity to look into customer harassment and how to avoid employee injuries in the future.