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26 Catt. 3: In re Chop’t Creative Salad Company

2013 December 18

CATTLEYA, J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. JEREMY, C.J., wrote an opinion concurring in the result.

The sole question before the Cart today is whether we have jurisdiction to review the L.A. Food Truck Salad from Chop’t Creative Salad Company. Chop’t, as the reader probably knows, is not a food truck or cart. It is a chain restaurant found on urban street corners and in suburban shopping malls. There are a number of Chop’t locations throughout D.C. and Northern Virginia.

This fall season, Chop’t featured on its menu a dish called the L.A. Food Truck Salad as a seasonal special. The salad consisted of panko-fried chicken, ginger pickled shishito peppers, scallions, carrots, and romaine lettuce, all tossed in a creamy Sriracha dressing. The special was available for about two months.

L.A. Food Truck salad

L.A. Food Truck Salad


The Judiciary Act of 2011 (Cartiorari Act), our guiding legislation, grants the Supreme Cart “exclusive jurisdiction of all food carts, trucks, and other transitory alimentary establishments.” Our Rule of Procedure 1-2 explains that this grant extends to “all mobile gastronomic enterprises situated throughout those parts of (a) the County of Arlington, Virginia, (b) the District of Columbia, and (c) the City of Alexandria, Virginia, which are reasonably proximate to public transportation of a reasonably rapid and efficient character.”

Beyond food trucks and carts, our case law has extended jurisdiction to non-mobile, brick-and-mortar restaurants when certain conditions have been met. We have granted jurisdiction to a brick-and-mortar’s dishes when the restaurant shared a sibling relationship with a food truck and served its dishes under the same branding. See In re SUNdeVICH, 22 Catt. 2 (2013). We have also granted jurisdiction to review a food truck’s dish that was served by an unrelated brick-and-mortar restaurant when the food truck and restaurant entered into a formal agreement and the restaurant served the dish in the original form intended by the food truck. See In re Captain Cookie & The Milkman at Thomas Foolery, 23 Catt. 3 (2013).

In the present case, Chop’t does not have a sibling relationship with a food truck. To the best of this Court’s knowledge (meaning as far as our law clerks’ research shows), Chop’t does not include in its operation any food truck or mobile gastronomic enterprise of any kind.

The remaining way for this Court to have jurisdiction over the L.A. Food Truck Salad is if it can be shown that Chop’t entered into an agreement with a food truck to serve that truck’s salad in Chop’t restaurants. This cannot be shown. Again, to the best of this Court’s knowledge, the L.A. Food Truck Salad is not the creation of any L.A.-based food truck. It appears that the L.A. Food Truck Salad is Chop’t’s original dish inspired by its interpretation of mobile gastronomy in Los Angeles. While we must assume that Chop’t meant this Asian fusion dish to be a compliment to L.A. food trucks, we must also assume that this confused, incohesive dish is an affront to L.A., the home of mobile gastronomic masterpieces like Kogi’s Korean tacos, otherwise known as the Korean tacos.

Because the L.A. Food Truck Salad is not the creation of a food truck, either related or not to Chop’t, we do not have the authority to review it.


Finally, I note that while a finding of mootness would also preclude our jurisdiction, this case is not moot even though the L.A. Food Truck Salad is not currently on the Chop’t menu. There is nothing to prevent the salad from returning in the future, and the 60-day limit on Chop’t seasonal specials makes it difficult for this Court to address in time. See Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498 (1911). I also note that it’s a very good thing for the reader that the L.A. Food Truck Salad’s 60-day debut has expired. The regular reader will know that another confused fusion dish reviewed by this Court left us wanting something more than “Sriracha and cilantro.” See In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011). Similarly, this fusion salad left the palate wanting something more than romaine lettuce and (diluted) Sriracha.


JEREMY, C.J., concurring in the result.

Ridiculous. Spurious judicial activism. My sister is up to her old tricks again, slamming shut the doors of the Hall of Justice. After victories in SUNdeVICH and Thomas Foolery, I was certain the tides were changing. Sure, Mothership and Shanghai Lounge gave me some pause, but things were, in general, going so well. And then this. But what would you expect?

My sister finds that we lack jurisdiction in this case because Chop’t’s “L.A. Food Truck Salad” is not food truck fare under the laws and jurisprudence that guides this court. But really how much plainer could it be, Justice? L.A. FOOD TRUCK Salad. It’s right in the name. Right there, plain as day.

Surely my sister has heard of the basic interpretive doctrine of plain meaning? But maybe I shouldn’t make that assumption. See In re China Garden, 5 Catt. 1 (2012); In re Lemongrass, 7 Catt. 1 (2012). See also her nasty, spiteful comment in the headnote of my cogent opinion in Brennan’s. Dear Justice Cattleya: please reread Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470 (1917). Kthxbye.

Of course, if I find jurisdiction in this case, I must proceed to consider the merits of Chop’t’s L.A. Food Truck Salad. Will I spend my hard-earned judge’s dollars at Chop’t for naught? Hell no. For this reason, and this reason alone, I join in the result of my sister’s opinion, agreeing the case is appropriately dismissed.

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