Kucinich Settles Olive Dispute for Undisclosed Sum

By John R Parkinson

Jan 28, 2011 5:02pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich says that he has reached a settlement in his suit against four vendors that service a Congressional cafeteria where he suffered a cracked a tooth after he bit into a sandwich containing an unpitted olive in 2008.

Kucinich, who filed the suit Wednesday seeking $150,000 in damages, said the terms of the settlement are confidential, but he believes the defendants responded “fairly and reasonably.”

“The parties have exchanged information and after some investigation and discussion have resolved the matter for an amount all parties believe reflects the actual out-of-pocket expenses related to this incident,” Kucinich, D-Ohio, said. “I don’t want to have to make another dental visit for a very long time.”

Kucinich, who has twice sought the Democratic nomination for president, says the injury required three dental surgeries over the course of two years and cost a substantial amount of money to rectify. According to Kucinich, his health insurance and dental insurance did not cover the expenses of the injury, which affected his “ability to chew food properly.”

“The legal action you have heard about was filed due to the severity, expense and duration of the dental injury, the complications which followed and which still persist,” Kucinich said. “I wanted to resolve this matter without filing a lawsuit.”

Kucinich says he would have preferred to focus on “profoundly important issues” facing the Congress, but “it seems that some are more interested in discussing my personal dental issues” so he now feels inclined to detail the incident.

“When I bit into the olive pit, (unbeknown to me at the time), upon impact the tooth split in half,  vertically through the crown and the tooth, below the level of the bone. Externally there was no evidence of a break.  This was not about aesthetics.  The internal structure of the tooth was rendered nonrestorable. Although the pain was excruciating, I shook it off and  I went right back to work,” Kucinich said in a statement. “This tooth is a key tooth which anchored my upper bridgework. The injured tooth and the bone above it became infected. I took a course of antibiotics for the infection, had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics which caused me to have an intestinal obstruction and emergency medical intervention.”

“Later, my dentist referred me to a specialist who informed me that the damaged tooth had to be removed,” Kucinich continued. “A third dentist removed the tooth and I was fitted for a temporary partial.  I waited for the bone to heal. An implant was placed, but it failed. Many months later still a second implant succeeded. My bridgework had to be completely reconfigured, a new partial was designed, so this injury did not affect only one tooth, but rather involved six replacement teeth as well. A new crown with a new precision attachment was engineered and put in place.”

Kucinich says he would have personally explained the harrowing episode earlier, but declined interview requests because he “did not want it said that I was trying the case in the media.”

A complaint filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Wednesday said that Kucinich suffered “serious and permanent dental and oral injuries” in the incident and asserted that the tainted sandwich wrap was “unwholesome and unfit for human consumption, in that it was represented to contain pitted olives, yet unknown to plaintiff contained an unpitted olive.” 

The complaint further states that Kucinich “could not visually detect” the unpitted olive prior to consumption. 

Kucinich, who ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 and 2008, bought the sandwich from the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria on April 17, 2008, according to the complaint. 

The complaint also said that Kucinich “sustained serious and permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple surgery and oral procedures”  and claims Kucinich has sustained other damages, “including significant pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment.” 

Before settling today, Kucinich was seeking $150,000 in damages, plus interest and costs, from Restaurant Associates, which manages the cafeteria, and three other businesses that stock and help run the operation.

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