Customer's Trip Over Ashtray Leads to 450K Lawsuit Against Texas Roadhouse; Now, It's a Federal Case
Written by: Sam Orlando
Christiansburg, VA — A seemingly innocent ashtray at Texas Roadhouse has catapulted itself into the limelight, becoming the defendant — well, more like the evidence — in a lawsuit that's been elevated from a county kerfuffle to federal drama.
Debra Smith, the plaintiff, who did her part in tripping over said ashtray, is seeking a whopping $450,000 for her tumble.
The case, originally filed in the seemingly quaint Montgomery County Circuit Court, has since been upgraded to the big leagues: The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
The Complaint, or How an Ashtray Ruined a Day
Smith's formal complaint paints the scene vividly. On July 24, 2021, she visited the Texas Roadhouse at 100 Bradley Drive NW in Christiansburg. As she gallantly stepped aside to allow other patrons to enter, she claims to have tripped over a "large" ashtray—conveniently hidden behind the door, like some sort of evil ninja obstacle. Smith says the tumble led to "permanent injuries, past and future pain and suffering, past and future emotional distress," and presumably, a newfound fear of ashtrays.
Smith alleges that the restaurant failed in its "duty to maintain the subject premises in a safe condition." She's holding her ground, demanding a jury decide the merits of her stumble-and-fall epic.
Texas Roadhouse's Comeback
The defendant isn't taking this sitting down, or tripping over anything, for that matter. In their formal response, Texas Roadhouse denies practically everything, short of admitting that they do, indeed, exist as a Kentucky-based business. They’ve put forth an array of affirmative defenses, from the classics like "she was negligent" to the evergreen "she assumed the risk."
What This Could Mean for the Ashtrays of America
This legal faceoff, now housed in a federal court, might just set the stage for ashtrays and other innocuous objects that find themselves in the path of well-meaning patrons. For the rest of us, it serves as a lesson in the American way of litigation: when life gives you ashtrays, make a federal case out of it.