Police said resident Lee Thoss, 62, of the Spring Haven Retirement Community was picking through the lettuce, which disgusted 86-year-old William Hocker, who was standing in line behind him.
Hocker told Thoss no one wanted to eat food he had been playing with. Thoss yelled and cursed at him, Hocker told police, and Hocker called him a nasty name. Then, witnesses said, Thoss then began punching Hocker in the face.
In the buffet melee that followed, Allen Croft, 79, tried to grab Thoss, who bit him on the arm, reports said.
Thoss' mother, Arlene, in her 80s and also a Spring Haven resident, jumped in to break up the fight and ended up with a cut arm. Harry Griffin, 92, was standing at the salad bar and cut his head when he was knocked to the ground.
"All the old folks were either getting up to help or trying to get out of there," police spokesman J.J. Stanton said of the scene last Sunday in the well-appointed dining room, which features an ice cream bar and a pastry chef.
Arlene Thoss, Croft and Griffin were treated at a local hospital and released.
Stanton said all involved declined to press charges, but home administrators have asked Lee Thoss to move out.