A sharp piece of metal – about as long as a nickel is wide – changed the trajectory of Celest Mallett’s life.
In a lawsuit filed last month, she says she ingested it when she ate cookies and gravy while driving at McDonald’s in Oakhurst.
“On her third bite, she felt something very sharp and painful in the back of her throat,” said plaintiff’s attorney Andrew Ryan. “She started coughing up blood, like very heavy blood.”
Ryan says Mallett and her boyfriend immediately knew she needed medical attention and with local emergency care closed, she headed to St. Agnes in Fresno.
But the bleeding got so bad they called an ambulance.
An endoscopy revealed the problem and the doctors ruled it out.
But seven months later, Mallett’s voice still hasn’t healed.
“She misses work once in a while,” Ryan said. “She’s a hotel concierge. She just can’t talk. She has a really hoarse voice the other days.”
Mallett couldn’t do an interview with us or go to work on Wednesday because of his voice.
She’s in her late twenties and loves to sing, but the damage to her throat doesn’t let her down just yet.
His lawyer says food workers are trained to make sure they don’t serve contaminated items, but something went wrong at this restaurant.
“We don’t know in this case exactly what happened and how this metal ended up in the food,” Ryan said. “But a lot of times, we find sometimes that in these manufacturing plants, the metal can come off. We may have seen that in some packaging materials before.”
McDonald’s and franchise owner John Abbate told us, “The health and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority, and we take these statements seriously. However, we do not comment on ongoing litigation.
Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says this litigation is almost a slam dunk because there’s not much McDonald’s can say to defend itself.
“The first is that ‘it really didn’t come from us. We don’t have any type of material like this on our premises,” Capozzi said.
Capozzi says the real question will be: what is the damage?
Mallett will soon see an otolaryngologist.
But if she misses work because of her injuries and the impairment is long-lasting, Capozzi says the damage could end up being significant.
The parties are due to meet in court in the coming months, but if the case goes to trial, that won’t happen for at least two years.
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