October 15, 2014
A former bartender at Bluehour in Northwest Portland's Pearl District filed a $688,000 lawsuit this week -- claiming he was burned over much of his body when a large vase containing Everclear broke next to a candle, igniting a countertop next to him.
The restaurant decided to "enhance the bar's atmosphere by placing colored Everclear, a highly flammable alcoholic liquid, in large vases at the base of the bar" and put open-flame candles next to the vases, according to the suit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court by bartender Steven Grimm.
The suit lists restaurateurs Bruce Carey and Ken Giambalvo as defendants. Carey is well known in the restaurant world. He started Bluehour, Zefiro, Saucebox and 23Hoyt with colleagues. In 2007, he acquired Clarklewis.
Giambalvo worked as chef at Bluehour for more than a decade, and left his position in 2011. But he is still a member of the limited liability company that owns Bluehour, according to the suit. Carey also is a member, the suit states.
A message seeking comment for this story -- left Tuesday with management at Bluehour -- was not returned.
On April 4, 2013, Grimm was working when he accidentally nicked one of the vases and it cracked, pouring the purple-tinted Everclear onto the counter top, the suit states.
"The spilled Everclear came in contact with the open flame candles and immediately combusted," the suit states. "Steven Grimm was immediately covered by the flaming liquid."
Grimm suffered burns to his arms, hands, torso and legs -- and his medical bills have reached $42,000 so far, according to the suit. He also was out of work for one year -- and suffered $46,000 in lost wages, the suit states.
Grimm, who is in his early 30s, returned to tending bar in April 2014 at a different restaurant.
He's seeking $600,000 for pain, permanent disfigurement despite skin-graft surgeries and physical limitations, including not being able to run as exercise because his scarred skin is too tight.
The suit faults the restaurateurs for allegedly placing the Everclear in vases that could easily be broken, placing the vases close to candles and ignoring the flammability warnings on the Everclear label.
Everclear is 95 percent alcohol by volume, and the label on the front of the bottle states: "CAUTION!! EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE" and "KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE, HEAT AND OPEN FLAME."
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the incident and fined the restaurant $300 in July 2013, finding that it had improperly stored a flammable liquid.
Grimm is represented by Portland attorney Philip Lebenbaum.
In the interest of science and the furthering of safety, as Monty Python says, "And now for something completely different......"
5 of the Strongest Liquors in the WorldSource: Partyprobs
Thank you for reading.