Samuel Guthry was dining with friends at a Chinese restaurant in Gooseberry, Kentucky when an otherwise perfect evening suddenly turned into the most humiliating moment of Guthry's life.
"We were going around the table reading our fortune cookies," explains Guthry. "You know, some people were tagging the phrase 'in bed' at the end of it. Well, it came my turn. I opened up my fortune cookie and read it out loud. It said, 'You only treasure what you will never have.'"
In an exclusive interview, Guthry's attorney, Gloria Greenway, said, "The fact that the phrase 'in bed' was added to it is humiliating enough. Think about it. How does this sound? 'You only treasure what you will never have in bed.' But that's not even the reason for this lawsuit."
Greenway explained, "My client treasures many of the things in his life. He treasures his children. He has friends and relatives who mean a lot to him. He loves his job. He has family heirlooms that have great sentimental value to him. It is downright defamatory for a business establishment to imply that my client has no gratitude for the wonderful people and things in his life. This has taken a great toll on his life and has tarnished his reputation in the community."
Business continues to thrive at Gooseberry's Dragon Buffet in spite of the controversy. "I don't know why this man is suing us," said owner Jason Lin. "We order our fortune cookies through a supplier. It should be them who he sues. See the sign on the door? It says, 'We are not responsible for what your fortune cookies say.' But he sues us anyway."
However, several frequent customers of the Dragon Buffet have told this reporter that the sign was posted after Guthry filed his lawsuit and that the sign was not displayed on the night of the incident.
"It's not the first time something like this has happened at the Dragon Buffet," said one former customer, a college student who asked not to be identified. "The last time I was there, my fortune cookie said, 'Take advantage of rare opportunities.' Then, all my friends added 'in bed' to it. But I couldn't believe the restaurant had the audacity to imply that I receive opportunities only rarely." Fighting back tears, the former patron said, "I am highly-skilled, highly intelligent, and attractive. I have a wealth of opportunities and potential. I don't care what any fortune cookie says."
Attorney Gloria Greenway said that her client may also file a lawsuit against the company that makes the fortune cookies, Hulnick Foods, Inc., which has no plans to recall the product. "This is just my personal opinion, but I think that people who write the words that go into fortune cookies could benefit from sensitivity training," Greenway said. "But for now, the focus is on the restaurant itself." She admitted that such a lawsuit is unprecedented, but added, "The restaurant has some culpability in all this. It shows negligence on their part that they don't even screen the fortune cookies before they pass them on to their customers."
Some Chinese restaurants, fearing that they will become targets of copycat lawsuits, have stopped serving fortune cookies altogether. However, the Dragon Buffet's crosstown competitor has a different strategy. "We make the customers sign a waiver before we give them fortune cookies, saying they won't sue," said Leah Chin, co-owner and manager of Four Winds Buffet. "If they don't sign waiver, they get no cookie."