Closed Columbia restaurant ordered to pay $250,000 to woman claiming burns from hookah

A former Columbia restaurant has been ordered to pay $250,000 after it failed to make a plea or otherwise defend itself against a personal injury lawsuit that claims hot coals from a hookah burned a guest.

Judge Kristi F. Curtis made the default judgment order on May 3.

The lawsuit was initially filed in Richland County against Silk Restaurant and Lounge in 2022. It came just four months after Silk, advertised as an upscale restaurant and lounge, opened in the Vista. The business is now permanently closed.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff, Caitlynn Myer, suffered third-degree burns, disfigurement and mental anguish after Silk Restaurant and Lounge was negligent and careless in the way hookahs were served to guests.

“She has a scar that will be with her unless and until she pays for the plastic surgery to get rid of it,” Myer’s attorney Amber Davis said.

Davis said Myer’s large burn scar also happens to be shaped like a swastika.

“So that was another thing that affected her mentally, what it looked like on her body,” Davis said.

The claim alleges that Silk failed to use cages around the hookah’s metal bowls that contained hot coal. That allowed the coals to fall out and burn Myer, Davis said. The lawsuit also claims the hookahs were displayed on tables near patrons in a way that was “dangerous and reckless.”

It’s not clear precisely when Silk officially permanently closed, but an order to vacate the Gervais Street property was filed in court in September of 2023.

Daquan Doyle, Silk’s former owner, said he disagrees with the lawsuit’s claims that hookahs were being served in a negligent manner. He said he plans to argue against the claim and the order to pay $250,000 to Myer.

“We are going to fight that,” he said.

Davis said there are very few circumstances that would relieve a defendant from a default judgment, but it will come down to what evidence Doyle can provide to the judge.