When is a hazard not a hazard? When everybody knows about it, that's when.

Say, you've just finished enjoying some Japanese Teriyaki, Mandarin Kung Pao or Thai Coconut Curry at the Pei Wei Asian Diner on Dowlen Road in Beaumont, then you snap open your fortune cookie and read this ominous message: "Beware of puddle in front of soda dispenser."

"Pfft!" you say to your lunch mate. "Why don't fortune cookies have fortunes anymore? What happened to predictions about meeting tall, dark strangers and inheriting fortunes? All you get now is silly advice or ridiculous aphorisms – and lotto numbers."

"Yeah," says your companion, "Besides, everybody knows about the puddle in front of the soda dispenser. The roof leaks. Duh! When it rains, there's a puddle."

"Danger! Danger! Yeah, right!"

You both look over at the soda dispenser and just then -- while you're giggling at the puddle in front of it, the puddle that's always there when it rains, because, as everyone knows, the roof leaks – who goes tromping through the puddle but Pamelia East. Pamelia East, who's a regular customer and probably knows about the puddle that forms in front of the soda dispenser whenever it rains.

Okay, so maybe you didn't actually see her step in the puddle, much less fall and injure herself, but that's what she says happened, and you've got to wonder about it, because, after all, everybody does know about the puddle that forms in front of the soda dispenser whenever it rains.

Nevertheless, East filed suit against the Pei Wei Asian Diner in Jefferson County District Court a year ago February (adding Summit at Woodhaven as a defendant last October).

Did Pamelia really fall and hurt herself? Or did she get a foretelling fortune cookie and decide to make it come true? "Slip in puddle and get rich quick."

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