Cook County Record

Monday, March 30, 2020

Woman blames Mexican restaurant for leg burns, claims its chili con queso was "unreasonably hot"

By Bethany Krajelis | Aug 5, 2014


A Mexican restaurant is facing a lawsuit from a Lansing woman who claims she burned her legs on a carry-out order of chili con queso.

Lisa Alfernick filed a lawsuit Monday in the Cook County Circuit Court against Nando Corp., doing business as Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant, a chain with locations in the Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana.

According to the suit, Alfernick picked up a carry-out order from the Pepe’s in Calumet City on July 31, 2013 and placed the order of tacos on the floor in front of the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by her boyfriend and a white paper bag with a plastic container of chili con queso between her legs to prevent it from tipping over.

On their way home, Alfernick alleges, the unnecessarily hot chili con queso spilled out of the container, causing the paper bag between her legs to dissolve and the “scalding hot food to spill onto, saturate, and soak into and through her denim jeans.”

The suit states the spilled queso caused “redness, blistering, and “bilaterial partial and full thickness second and third degree burns to her right and left anterior thighs covering 9.5 percent of her total body area which then led to hyponatremia, significant infection, requiring painful debridement and remedial skin graft procedures.”

Among other claims, Alfernick asserts Pepe’s “carelessly, negligently and recklessly” overheated the queso, packaged it in an improperly secured container and sold her the food without warning “her that the chili con queso was hot enough to cause severe burns through denim pants.”

Alfernick has incurred more than $63,000 in medical expenses as a result of the burns, according to the suit that demands a jury trial and seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

She is being represented by Marshall P. Whalley of Marshall P. Whalley & Associates P.C. in Merrillville, Ind.

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