In Re: Soup

By Judge Brian Addington, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, Kingsport

The temperature plummeted to a morning low in Kingsport today of 16 degrees. Tomorrow, snow is in the forecast. We’re very much in the thick of soup weather. I love soup and chili. My favorites are potato soup, Italian wedding soup, and vegetable-beef soup. A bowl of soup with crackers or cornbread is a great meal.

Chili is a passion of mine. For some, chili must have ground beef with beans. For some, beans are prohibited. For others, chili must contain cubed beef. I love trying different taste and texture combinations and levels of heat in various chili recipes. I passed on my love and passion for chili to my son. Between us, we have won three trophies at chili cooking competitions. 


National Soup Month is January, and National Chili Day is February 25 this year. I hope this January or February, you will enjoy a nice hot bowl of soup or chili. But, as you savor that soup or chili, considering the following case:

In March 1989, Ms. Louise Mears sat down for a nice bowl of soup at work. She worked for ARA Services, Inc. in the cafeteria at Memphis Light, Gas, and Water. Another worker, a Ms. Woodward, had the responsibility of opening cans of soup and chili that day to serve to the public. Ms. Mears served herself a bowl of the soup and, after a few bites, felt a piece of metal sticking in her tongue. The opinion doesn’t state to what extent Ms. Mears suffered injury. An expert opined that the metal came from a tin can. Ms. Mears and her husband sued H.J. Heinz, the maker of the soup, relying on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor (“The thing speaks for itself”). The trial court granted Heinz’s motion for summary judgment, and the appeals court affirmed. Mears v. H. J. Heinz Co., 1995 Tenn. App. LEXIS 50 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 1995).

The opinion doesn’t mention whether Ms. Mears also sought a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from her employer, ARA Services, Inc. Being a workers’ compensation judge led me to consider the following:

1.      Was the soup provided to Ms. Mears and other employees as part of their compensation?
2.    Since Ms. Mears ate during her normal working hours in the cafeteria, does this make her injury a compensable claim?
3.      What medical treatment did she need?
4.      Did ARA Services, Inc. provide any medical benefits? 
5.      Did she suffer any permanent impairment, and if so, did she suffer any vocational disability? 

Obviously, she did suffer some injury for which she sought relief; however, she chose to sue the soup manufacturer, instead of trying to file a worker’s compensation claim. Perhaps the larger lesson is to make your own soup. To that end, I’ve provided one of my favorite recipes. Bon appetit.  

Chili
1¼ lb. ground beef-browned, drained, and salted
1 dried chili pepper of your choice-place in water in bowl in microwave and microwave 3 minutes  Let cool and take off stems and seed-finely chopped
8 ounces of beer  
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans-drained and rinsed
1 can black beans-drained and rinsed
1 can of pork and beans-not drained but pork removed
1 medium onion diced
1 stalk of celery diced fine
2 cloves of garlic-minced
¼ cup of ketchup
1 teaspoon browning and seasoning sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of oregano 
2 teaspoons black pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
Sugar to taste-if tomatoes are not sweet enough
Oil
Water
In large pot, heat a teaspoon of oil. Add onion and celery and cook till translucent.
Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and black pepper, and cook for thirty seconds. Add reconstituted chili pepper.
Add beer and bring to boil.
Add tomatoes, ketchup, browning and seasoning sauce, cinnamon, and molasses, and bring to boil again.
Add beans and beef. Stir well, and let cook on low, covered for thirty minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. May have to add water to your favorite consistency. I usually add half a can of water.    
Taste test and see if needs sugar. 

This is a warm not hot chili that the whole family can enjoy.  

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