June 28, 2005

Woman says finger found in Applebee’s salad

NEW ORLEANS, La. (Reuters) - A Louisiana woman has suedrestaurant company Applebee's International Inc., charging thatshe found a severed fingertip in her salad.

It was the second incident in the United States this yearinvolving a severed finger in a restaurant chain's food.

The lawsuit, filed last week in state court in Jefferson,Louisiana, said May Deal Chambers Johnson suffered physical andpsychological harm when she discovered the object in a take-outsalad from an Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar in the NewOrleans suburb of Jefferson in June 2004.

Applebee's spokeswoman Laurie Ellison said on Tuesday thecompany could not comment on pending litigation. The company'sshares fell 3.2 percent to close at $25.90 Tuesday on Nasdaq.

A California woman drew national attention in March whenshe said she found a finger in a bowl of chili from a Wendy'sInternational Inc. restaurant in San Jose, California.

The case was later found to be a hoax and the woman wasjailed on grand theft charges, but not before Wendy's suffereda steep drop in sales.

The Louisiana legal action, which seeks unspecifieddamages, accuses the restaurant of unsanitary food preparationand improper training of employees, as well as "failure toprevent the inclusion of a human fingertip in a salad to go."

Johnson's attorney, Michael Darnell, of New Orleans,declined to comment on the case.

Applebee's, headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, hasnearly 1,700 restaurants in 49 states and 12 countries.