Woman sues GH eatery

A woman who claims she was injured after swallowing a sharp object while dining at a Grand Haven restaurant this past summer is suing the business.
Becky Vargo
Jan 11, 2013


The lawsuit against the Porto Bello Italian Restaurant, 41 Washington Ave., was filed last month in Ottawa County Circuit Court on behalf of Carey and David Slager of Zeeland.

The Slagers were having a meal with friends on July 28 when Carey felt a stab of pain in her throat while swallowing a bite of food, the lawsuit says. A shard of either plastic or ceramic penetrated her throat and lodged next to her carotid artery, said their attorney, Ken Breese of Holland, when contacted this week.

“Had it moved, it would have sliced that vessel and killed her,” Breese said. “The manager came over and thought maybe she had swallowed a toothpick, or that maybe she burned her throat.

“Ultimately, I think, they didn’t charge her for the meal,” he added.

The restaurant's owner, Scott TenHagen, said once he was made aware of the lawsuit late last week, he discussed it with his staff.

“There’s nothing that shows there was anybody in distress that night,” TenHagen said. “Our standard procedure for a customer in distress is to call 911. Nobody left the building in distress because we would not allow it.”

Breese said Carey Slager saw a doctor after the incident, but the doctor didn’t see anything wrong and said her swallowing problem was consistent with a burn. But Carey continued to have problems, the attorney said, and she eventually returned for medical care.

“They did a CT (scan) and found the object,” Breese said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.




Ha, did anyone actually read the lawsuit file? How in the world do you swallow something 4 centimeters in length and not realize in when swallowing? I could see what this is detrimental to their marriage. The husband probably called her out for being a friggin' moron.


"But Carey continued to have problems"; really, for how long? Are we talking a day or two or several months? I'm fixated on the date that they ate at Porto Bello's; it was July 28th, and I assume (not a good habit) that it was 2012. Here comes the time line; Porto Bello's on the 28th of July, several Dr.'s appointments probably, finally a CT and walla; an object. I suppose she hadn't eaten anything else, any place else, since July. They might as well sue every eating establishment in town; dentist too, they were in her mouth also. In the end, she may have done this to herself in her own home; a piece of a floss pick or something equally stupid. This is rich isn't it, or at the very least an attempt to get that way! I wonder if Breese shares a practice with Tallman; a couple of real ambulance chasers that have embarrassed attorneys as a profession; not that they need assistance from these two brain dead clowns. Hey, good luck with this Carey; NOT!


This owner should counter sue the ever living snot out of these morons! My family has eaten at this establishment for over 25 years and the quality of the food and service has been consistently excellent. I have witnessed over the years many instances of caring and concern on the part of the staff including the kindness shown to one of our last remaining WWII veterans and have also witnessed firsthand how they handle emergencies including diners in distress and I do not believe they would have looked the other way! These folks should have done more homework and picked another establishment less professionally operated; the list is long!
My only beef with the Porto is that they haven’t changed their decor much over the years and interestingly they also haven’t changed their prices (too much), their family friendly approach and caring for their staff and patrons; come to think of it that is why we keep going back!


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Libel and defamation.


That still doesn't explain how she managed to consume something 4 centimeters long without noticing it until lodged in her esophagus!


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.


My, my... I can't believe the amount of hostility towards this woman who was a victim of the restaurant's poor organization of their broken dish fragments. To think that one would end up in your food!!
I worked in food service for many years myself and these things do happen. In a popular restaurant workers must move very quickly to keep the customers satisfied and there is a sense of contained panic at times in order to move quickly enough. You can go from total boredom to a sudden rush in minutes. Routines to handle such craziness must be in place beforehand. Health inspections can identify problem areas, but workers have a tendency to go back to what works best to expedite orders.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Libel and defamation.


Porto bellos is a great place to eat and take your family. very suspicious that it took this long to try and sue. the TenHagens are great people and would go out of there way to help someone. you should be ashamed slagers. My family is behind you Scott and Nancy


Hopefully Judge Hulsing will get this case and hopefully he will do the right thing.. Dismissed...NO Merit


Some people are so quick to assume that anyone filing a lawsuit is nothing but a greedy, money-grabbing, lowlife. It sure will be a surprise to them when they're someday wronged themselves and realize legal recourse is the only option to covering the costs they've incurred because of someone else's mistakes.

For those quick to judge and mock those who file lawsuits, do a quick search for a picture of the lady who infamously spilled hot coffee on her legs at McDonalds years ago (her name is Stella Liebeck), then read the details of her case (available at Wikipedia among other places) Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants. Still think it was a bogus and frivilous lawsuit? The case is much more complex than the media ever conveyed.

I'm no fan of our litigation crazy society myself, but I also don't like the way everyone seems to pounce on people like these folks before they even know the facts from both sides of the situation. And if you think a single newspaper article gives a fair and balanced enough report that you can decide the merits of the case yourself you're in serious need of more life experience and perspective.

Let people like this have their day in court without attacking their credibility and character first. I like Porto Bello's too, but if this was due to their negligence then it should be made known, and their insurance should cover it. If the couple is trying to scam the system, then lets trust our local judges to do their job and toss it out immediately. That's precisely why the legal system is in place.


I couldn't agree with you more. I might add, that Media outlets usually write their stories from a predetermined backed agenda which is set by its company owner(s). My personal life experience policy when it comes to Media News is, I never believe without question what I read, hear, or see. A recent example of complete News Media debacle was the first day after day after day of false information published by the National News Organizations on the details of what occurred at the Sandy Hook School Shooting. And, the News Media's unspoken motto: "Sensationalism Sells" is one of the Media's primary edicts.


I have to agree with Zeke here. I guarantee, if any of you were to walk into the local McDonalds, only to be carted out on a stretcher 15 minutes later with a piece of glass lodged in your throat. You would be calling an attorney before the ambulance door shut behind you.


whose to say she didn't drop it from her purse or this peice fell from her


The fact that this is another poorly written article doesn't help in trying to understand what happened here. I've read the article several times now, trying to understand what the timeline is here.....are we talking minutes, hours, days or weeks for these doctor visits after the initial ingestion?.
I can't imagine swallowing something sharp, something that is 1 1/2" long! and not immediately begin gagging and choking to remove what is lodged in my throat. Try stuffing a 1 1/2" piece of toothpick down your throat and see what kind of gag reflex you have...are we to assume here that she experienced no distress, finished her meal, left the restaurant under her own power and then later on went to see a doctor about an anoyance in her throat?
The article says that it was "a shard of either plastic or ceramic" that got lodged in her throat. At this point I would assume that the piece has been removed and determination as to what exactly it is should be a fact rather than speculation. So, what was it? a tine off a plastic fork? a piece of dinner plate? Something else related to the table setting?
C'mon, this happened in July and it's now January. If some of the basic facts of the case haven't been established by now then what is the point to the article?


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks.


I just don't understand why this woman would wait 6 months to sue Porto Bello. Also, I really don't know why the Tribune ran this article. This is all 'he said, she said'. No case has been won and no capital has exchanged hands. The Trib might as well publish all the people who were pulled over, talked to the police, or had an encounter with the law and NOTHING happened.


We live in the USA so we can be free to litigate to one hearts content, deal with it people.


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