GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Holland man who alleges he got sick after eating at a Wendy’s has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the Grandville restaurant.
In the lawsuit filed Friday in Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court, Holland resident Shane Meyers is asking for more than $25,000 in damages from Grand Rapids-based Meritage Hospitality Group, Inc.
The lawsuit accuses the company of gross negligence, breach of warranty and violation of the Michigan Consumers Protection Act.
On. Aug. 5, the lawsuit alleges Meyers bought and ate a burger with contaminated romaine lettuce from the Wendy’s at 4435 Canal Ave. SW in Grandville. The next day, Meyers started showing symptoms of a Shiga toxin E. coli infection. He sought medical attention to treat the effects of the E. coli food poisoning, according to the lawsuit.
“I started getting really sick. I got very bad internal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, symptoms like that,” said Meyers. “I didn’t know what was going on. The doctors didn’t know what was going on at first either until they got a diuretic test back and found out it was the Shiga toxin.”
Meyers said at some points he felt like he was going to pass out. He says before the incident, he was a regular customer at Wendy’s restaurants but hasn’t been back since getting sick.
Attorneys in the case say the restaurant had a responsibility to make sure the food was safe to eat and failed.
“Whenever you go to a restaurant, you are entrusting that restaurant with the idea that they have made your food safe for you to eat because most of the pathogens that you find in food including E. coli, you can’t see, smell or taste,” said Simon. “A lot of people wonder about ‘what did the restaurant do wrong?’ and Wendy’s is going to say, ‘well, our lettuce supplier sold us bad lettuce,’ but it all goes back to trust. When you go to a restaurant, you are trusting that the food they are putting on your plate is safe to eat and in this case Wendy’s failed that trust.”
Ron Simon with Ron Simon and Associates in Texas, said his law firm is one of a handful of firms in the world that specializes in food poisoning cases. He said typically E. Coli outbreaks center around leafy greens that were not properly cleaned or undercooked beef. He said some of the clients he’s representing in the Wendy’s case developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome which can cause kidney failure, require a kidney transplant or result in death.
“The top concern is, one, for those that are very seriously injured, to make sure they get well. The next thing — and this is a mounting problem for these people — they have all these medical bills and these are very expensive medical bills for the most seriously injured,” said Simon.
Meritage told News 8 Wednesday it does not comment on pending litigation. News 8 also reached out to Wendy’s corporate offices for a response to the lawsuit but did not hear back.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a possible link between a multistate E. coli outbreak and lettuce served on sandwiches at some Wendy’s franchises.
There have been at least 97 illnesses related to the outbreak, with 43 hospitalizations and no deaths across six states. As of Sept. 1, 58 people in Michigan have been infected with an outbreak strain of E. coli, according to the CDC.
The agency said it is not advising people to stop eating romaine lettuce or at Wendy’s restaurants.
Simon said as more people learn of the E. Coli outbreak, his firm expects to hear from more Wendy’s customers who want to join the lawsuits.