Infectious Menu

Contaminated health

Following the filing of a personal injury lawsuit, a fast-food restaurant that claims its recipes are driven by a high level of quality may now have to defend its slogan.  Despite Wendy’s dedication to incorporating fresh ingredients into its food, a Michigan franchise location may be held liable for contributing to the permanent health issues of a young consumer.  After citing almost 20 health code violations, the Ottawa County Health Department (OCHD) temporarily closed the location in July 2022, and on August 11, 2022, the OCHD closed the restaurant for a second time after discovering additional violations.

During the period between the OCHD’s first and second inspection, an 11-year-old girl visited the Jenison, MI location and ordered a “Biggie Bag,” which contains a hamburger, chicken nuggets, and french fries.  According to the lawsuit, filed by the now 13-year-old’s mother, Joy Lamfers, her daughter fell ill due to the presence of E. coli at the Wendy’s location.  Her initial symptoms of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection escalated to the serious conditions of hypertension, diabetes, brain damage, seizures, and paralysis on the left side of her body.  The child’s deteriorated health is directly attributed to the E. coli outbreak that was confirmed by the CDC.    

According to the CDC’s investigation, a shipment of romaine lettuce that was contaminated with E. coli was received at the Jenison Wendy’s location.  While Lamfers’ daughter’s meal did not contain the tainted lettuce, the presence of E. coli and alleged unsanitary conditions of the restaurant’s kitchen, as well as the egregious lack of concern for proper food safety, exhibited by restaurant staff, served as direct correlations to the child’s medical condition.  The plaintiff’s daughter is no longer able to communicate verbally and is learning at a level that is now inferior to her former healthy state.  The child’s family is seeking $20 million in damages.