McDonald's has faced plenty of litigation regarding its cuisine, and last year recalled 12 million “Shrek Forever After 3D” glasses after finding that the design's paint contained cadmium, a carcinogen.
But here's a new one: now the franchise is facing a suit complaining about both food and glass. Vjollca Lecaj, of suburban Chicago, claims that on August 5, 2010, she was eating a spicy McChicken sandwich at a McDonald's in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Lecaj bit into the sandwich and was surprised to find a large piece of glass waiting for her inside.
Complaint speculates coffee pot responsible
The complaint, filed in Cook County court on Friday, speculates that the “sandwich may have been contaminated after an overheated glass coffee pot exploded, causing glass shards to scatter,” according to a report in Chicago Breaking Business. Lecaj says the franchise “fail[ed] to properly inspect its cooking equipment and ensure that her sandwich could be eaten safely,” according to that report.
Lecaj claims that she sustained “severe and permanent oral injuries as well as great pain and anguish,” as reported by CBS's local Chicago affiliate.
Bona fide complaint, or Wendy's finger redux?
Whether the suit is meritorious or not remains to be seen. Several commenters on various websites are already drawing comparisons to another notorious fast-food lawsuit: that alleging that a woman found a finger in a bowl of chili she ordered at Wendy's.
The suit, brought by Anna Ayala in March 2005, claimed that the finger was well-cooked and concealed in the chili.
The suit forced Wendy's to absurdly insist that “all of our employees have 10 digits,” the defense offered by company spokesman Denny Lynch shortly after Ayala's suit was filed. Lynch added that he wasn't aware of any “finger-related” accidents suffered by the franchise.
But it didn't take long for police to uncover Ayala's litigious history, which included a suit against another fast-food restaurant several years earlier.
Ayala ended up serving four years of a nine-year prison sentence for her role in the scam. Released last year, one of the terms of her probation is that she never set foot inside a Wendy's again.
In an interview with a local CBS affiliate, Ayala admitted that she cooked the ostensibly tainted chili -- inserting a finger belonging to her husband's coworker -- and then froze it for months, eventually driving to the San Jose Wendy's and feigning shock when she “found” the finger in her meal. Wendy's estimated that it lost around $21 million in business due to the highly-publicized suit.
Whether Lecaj's suit is genuine or a repeat of the Wendy's incident remains to be seen. But one Illinois consumer who wrote to ConsumerAffairs.com in February 2009 claims to have had a nearly identical experience.
“I went through the drive thru and ordered a McChicken with cheese and got a McChicken with GLASS!,” says Tonya of Peoria, Ill. “I drove off and ate about 1/2 of it before I bit into a large piece of glass. When I bit into it I pulled the [sandwich] away from my mouth and realized there was glass in the chicken patty.”
“At first I [had] a hell of a toothache,” Tonya continues. “Then about 24-36 hours later I started becoming feverish, serious abdominal cramps and [diarrhea]. I went to the [ER] to discover I had a serious infection [of] the entire intestine, and with no med[ical] history to show why, it is believed I actually digested glass.”
And another consumer -- this one in Maryland -- says she found a glass-like substance in a McFlurry she ordered for her son.
"W]hile my son was eating his McFlurry, he was chewing something that he thought was ice,” Manuelita of Oxon Hill, MD wrote in May 2009. “It turned out to be something clear that looks like glass, with sharp edges no less. I am highly disappointed because this object hurt his mouth. Lucky for McDonald's and fortunately for my son, there was no blood. I AM LIVID to say the least.”
McDonald's has yet to comment on the suit.
Lecaj's suit alleges negligence and product liability, and seeks upwards of $600,000 in damages. The suit names both McDonald's and the Oak Lawn franchise as defendants.