Michigan Family Sues Wendy's for $20 Million Over Daughter's Brain Damage from E. Coli

Family sues Wendy's for $20M after daughter suffers brain damage from E. coli infection allegedly contracted at unsanitary restaurant. Highlights critical importance of food safety and franchise owner responsibility.

Hadeel Hashem
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Michigan Family Sues Wendy's for $20 Million Over Daughter's Brain Damage from E. Coli

Michigan Family Sues Wendy's for $20 Million Over Daughter's Brain Damage from E. Coli

The family of Aspen Lamfers, an 11-year-old girl from Michigan, has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Wendy's after their daughter suffered severe brain damage and other life-threatening complications from an E. coli infection allegedly contracted from a meal at a Wendy's restaurant in Jenison, Michigan in August 2022. Aspen developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare and serious condition caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which led to kidney failure, seizures, left-sided paralysis, and permanent brain damage.

The lawsuit alleges that the Wendy's location had received two scathing health inspections that summer, which found numerous food safety violations, including moldy strawberries, spoiled tomatoes, day-old chili left out, improper hand hygiene, and an overall unsanitary premises. Despite these warnings, the restaurant reportedly failed to adequately address the issues and continued operating, leading to Aspen's life-altering illness just days after eating there.

Why this matters: This case highlights the critical importance of food safety practices and the devastating consequences that can result from lapses in hygiene and sanitation at restaurants. It also raises questions about the responsibility of franchise owners to prioritize public health and address violations identified by health inspectors in a timely manner.

Aspen was hospitalized for over a month and required dialysis due to the severity of her condition. She now faces ongoing health challenges, including high blood pressure, weakness, diabetes, and cognitive impairments that have affected her academic performance. The family's attorney, Tom Worsfold, stated that the $20 million in damages sought accounts for Aspen's expected loss of lifetime earning potential due to her brain injury.

"Aspen was 'that close to dying,'" Worsfold said, describing the restaurant's failure to address the violations after the initial inspection as "egregious and unforgivable." The lawsuit estimates $500,000 in past medical bills, $1.6 million in future medical expenses, and $5 million in loss of future earnings for Aspen. Meritage Hospitality Group, the company that owns the Wendy's franchise, is named as the defendant in the suit.

Key Takeaways

  • Family sues Wendy's for $20M after daughter's severe E. coli illness
  • Wendy's location had multiple food safety violations prior to incident
  • Daughter suffered kidney failure, paralysis, and permanent brain damage
  • Lawsuit seeks damages for medical bills, future expenses, and lost earnings
  • Franchise owner Meritage Hospitality Group named as defendant in lawsuit