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Heard on the Hill: Biting the Hand That Feeds You?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich may want to avoid buying lunch from the House cafeterias.

HOH chatted with Darren McKinney, spokesman for the American Tort Reform Association, after news broke Wednesday that Kucinich is suing several companies associated with the House cafeterias for $150,000. Kucinich claims he bit into a sandwich wrap that contained an unwanted olive pit, and it caused dental damage.

McKinney — whose group lobbies for limits on personal injury lawsuits — calls Kucinich’s claim “just ludicrous on its face.” And he has a warning:“If I’m the cafeteria ladies, I’m spitting in his food when I see him coming.”

Judging from what one worker tells HOH, McKinney might have a point.

“Why’d he wait so long?” the worker says, adding that incidents where people find unlikely things in their food are “infrequent.”

Kucinich’s spokesman declined to comment Wednesday, as did his lawyer. Restaurant Associates, the company that runs the cafeterias, would only acknowledge receiving the lawsuit for review. The House Administration Committee, which oversees the cafeterias, also opted not to comment.

McKinney predicts the lawsuit will damage Kucinich’s image, citing a recent lawsuit involving New York state Sen. Jim Alesi.

Three years ago, the Republican lawmaker and a friend entered the basement of a home under construction in suburban New York. The stairs hadn’t been built, so Alesi climbed a ladder to get to the first floor. He fell and broke his leg. The homebuilder and property owners didn’t press trespassing charges, and Alesi responded by filing a personal injury lawsuit — which, under enormous public pressure, he dropped.

“Maybe Dennis Kucinich can take a page from [Alesi’s] lawsuit and withdraw this lawsuit,” McKinney says.

“I can’t imagine that Dennis Kucinich’s tooth hurts to the tune of $150,000,” McKinney adds.