Tantrum-Thrower Wants Sympathy. Yeah, Right

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DAVID Schlessinger is seeking public sympathy. Yours, mine, everybody's. He went to a restaurant and was unhappy with his steak dinner. So he called the police, got a lawyer and sued, and it kicked around the courts and finally became a federal case.

Here is how the U.S. Court of Appeals just summed up Schlessinger's unhappiness:

"David Schlessinger and two friends visited Anthony's Steakhouse in (Lake) Geneva, Wis., for dinner on January 8, 1994. Schlessinger ordered his steak medium-well done. Before the main course arrived, Schlessinger deemed that he was `receiving substandard service at the restaurant, so I demanded better service.' "Judging the meat he received `burned,' Schlessinger complained long and loud. George Condos, the owner, told him that the food had been properly prepared and asked him to stop disturbing the other patrons. "Schlessinger was unwilling to eat the food, to leave, or to pay until his demand for a new entree had been met. Schlessinger's affidavit continues: `I feared trouble by the escalating situation and called the police from my cellular phone to get the situation corrected.' George Salimes and another officer answered the call. Condos suggested to the officers that Schlessinger might be under the influence of drugs. Salimes told Schlessinger that, unless he paid the tab and left, he would be arrested for disorderly conduct and theft of services. The trio then paid and left." The court went on: "Most people dissatisfied with a restaurant's service or cuisine would tell their friends not to go, resolve not to return, and perhaps write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper or the Better Business Bureau, then let the matter drop. "But having played the wise guy in calling the police, Schlessinger encored that performance by filing this suit against Condos, Salimes and everyone else in or out of sight - including the town of Lake Geneva, the Town Board and its members, the town's police department and the town's chief of police." Then the appeals court comes to this stern conclusion: "This goofy lawsuit deservedly met an abrupt end in the district court. Frivolous at the outset, and likely maliciously retaliatory as well, the case has deteriorated on appeal. "Schlessinger's suit is absurd and likely malicious. It trivializes the constitutional rights he asks us to vindicate. If your meal is not tasty, you do not throw a tantrum, upset the other diners, and then sue the mayor of the town where the restaurant is located . . . "Suits and appeals such as this not only bring the courts into disrepute but also divert scarce judicial time from other litigants who have serious claims or defenses . …