Big Mac contained syringe tip, suit claims

An Ontario chiropractor is suing McDonald's Corp. for US$4.5-million over allegations he found part of a syringe in a Big Mac.

National Post
March 14, 2001

Big Mac contained syringe tip, suit claims
Heather Sokoloff

An Ontario chiropractor is suing McDonald's Corp. for US$4.5-million over allegations he found part of a syringe in a Big Mac.

In a complaint filed in a New York court, Robert Orr alleged the incident occurred when he stopped at a McDonald's in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Nov. 8, 1999, during a shopping trip with his daughter.

When he bit into his hamburger, the tip of a syringe needle measuring about six millimetres became lodged in his mouth, he alleges. Mr. Orr, who lives in Niagara Falls, Ont., says he was taken by ambulance to the hospital where the needle was removed by doctors.

"This is a horrible thing that has happened. As you can imagine, he lives with a daily fear — even if it's against medical probability — that he has contracted something," said Howard Cohen, a Buffalo lawyer representing Mr. Orr. He added that the needle was lodged so deeply in the man's jaw he couldn’t open or close his mouth.

Mr. Orr has been tested twice for diseases such as HIV, Mr. Cohen said. The tests came up negative.

Calls to McDonald's U.S. headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., were not returned yesterday.

The suit seeks financial compensation for emotional anguish over contracting a disease.

Mr. Orr, who is in his mid-50s, declined to comment on the case.

Niagara County Memorial Medical Center confirmed he was treated in the emergency room.

Mr. Cohen said his client decided to go ahead with the lawsuit when he saw reports in the Niagara County Gazette in January about a 31-year-old Canadian woman who allegedly bit into a hypodermic needle while eating Chicken McNuggets at the same Niagara County McDonald's franchise. She was treated in hospital for a cut in her mouth.

In that case, New York police found no evidence the needle was placed there by an employee.

"Upon learning of the other incident, [his client] felt it was important to let everyone know what has happened," Mr. Cohen said, adding the woman is not part of the lawsuit and has remained anonymous.

Mr. Cohen said Mr. Orr asked McDonald's to find out where the needles came from, but the fast-food company never responded.

"They simply refer us to their liability insurer every time I call. Our first concern is there be an investigation, to assure my client McDonald's cares about what happened," said Mr. Cohen.

The lawsuit claims McDonald's was negligent for not properly preparing and inspecting the product, and allowing a product with a foreign substance in it to be served.

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