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Burned Teen Awarded $225,000

October 13, 1988

STUART, Fla. (AP) _ A jury has ordered a restaurant to pay $225,000 to a former employee whose legs were badly burned by steaming soup.

The judge ruled Mr. Laff’s Riverfront Restaurant violated child-labor laws in hiring Mildred Arena of Jensen Beach, then 15, and allowing her to work excessive hours without proper documentation. She spilled a pot of soup on her legs while working more than two years ago.

″I could take all the money in the world and nothing could heal my scars. Nothing could make up for this,″ Ms. Arena, 17, said of the scars on her right ankle and thigh.

She said a customer bumped her arm, causing her to spill the soup and fall.

She is to receive the money in December, after her 18th birthday.

The civil trial went to the jury Wednesday after Circuit Judge Martha Warner told the panel Mr. Laff’s had violated labor laws. Because of that, the judge said, the restaurant was liable for 100 percent of Ms. Arena’s injuries and the jurors were to decide the amount of the award.

″Then we have no defense,″ attorney Rick Rodgers told the judge. ″Our only defense was her own negligence.″

Ms. Arena’s attorney, Richard Kibbey, asked for no less than $200,000 for pain, skin grafts and mental anguish.

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