A customer of the fast-casual U.S. chain Chopt is suing the eatery after she says she received a salad contaminated with a severed human finger.
The shocking allegations were detailed in a lawsuit filed Monday by Allison Cozzi of Greenwich, Connecticut. She claims she began eating a salad purchased at a Chopt location in Mount Kisco, New York, on April 7 when she realized “she was chewing on a portion of a human finger that had been mixed in to, and made a part of, the salad,” the lawsuit reads.
The manager of the restaurant had earlier in the day accidentally severed a piece of her left index finger while chopping arugula on the service line. The manager went to the hospital, but somehow the contaminated arugula was still served to customers, including Cozzi, the lawsuit states.
Since finding the unwelcome surprise in her meal, Cozzi says she has suffered from “serious personal injuries” including shock, panic attacks, migraines, cognitive impairment, nausea, dizziness, and neck and shoulder pain.
The suit goes on to claim that the Chopt location was issued a ticket for a health violation because of this incident, and that Chopt did not contest the violation.
Online records from the Westchester County health department show that Chopt was fined US$900, though the reason for the fine was not listed.
An incident report obtained by the Washington Post details how a manager at Chopt, identified as Keny M., told Westchester County health officials that a manager did indeed cut off the tip of her left index finger while preparing arugula.
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After she left to seek medical treatment, “workers did not realize the arugula was contaminated with human blood and a finger tip skin,” the report allegedly reads.
A customer’s complaint upon finding the finger was reported “to the store and to corporate” but not to health officials, the Post reports. A hearing was held on May 25 in which a Chopt district manager expressed remorse for failing to report the incident and Chopt was fined US$900.
Cozzi is seeking unspecified monetary damages for the alleged negligence of Chopt’s employees.
Chopt Creative Salad Co., a chain with more than 70 locations across the eastern United States, has yet to make a public statement on the lawsuit. Restaurant group Founders Table is also listed as a defendant in the suit.
Cozzi’s lawyer told NBC News that she does not want to comment further.
“She does not want to increase the stress and anxiety that this incident has caused her,” Marc Reibman said, adding: “As a matter of common sense and public interest, the failure to supervise the preparation and service of food in a manner that protects the public is a blatant deviation from accepted safe practice and deserves significant compensation.”
— With files from the Associated Press