Thursday, October 26, 2006

When is a dead rat worth $1,700,000?

Apparently, when it's found in a McDonald's salad by the wife and the nanny of a Dallas Cowboys coach.

A Dallas Cowboys coach, his wife and the family's nanny have sued a McDonald's owner, alleging they found a dead rat in a salad purchased at a Southlake restaurant.

The lawsuit, which seeks $1.7 million in damages, was filed Thursday in state district court on behalf of Cowboys passing-game coordinator Todd Haley, his wife, Christine Haley, and the family's live-in baby sitter, Kathryn Kelley.

"We tried to work this out," said Scott Casterline, a spokesman for the Haley family.

"We were forced to file a lawsuit. It's a tragic situation for any family to go through.

"Something has to be done to prevent this from ever happening again and to help these ladies to get over this."

Ken Lobato, owner-operator of the McDonald's, said he hadn't seen the litigation so he couldn't respond to the allegation.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our customers," he said. "We maintain the strictest quality standards. We take these matters seriously and are conducting a full investigation to get all the facts.

"In my years as an owner-operator, I've never seen anything like this," Mr. Lobato said.

According to the lawsuit, Mrs. Haley and Ms. Kelley purchased a salad on June 5 at the drive-through of the McDonald's at 2155 W. Southlake Blvd.

They took the salad home, where both women ate part of it before a dead rodent – thought to be a juvenile roof rat – was uncovered.

The women called the Southlake McDonald's, and a manager came to the house to examine the salad.

The manager asked to take the salad and rat, but the women declined, the lawsuit says.

The women became severely ill and endured long-lasting physical injuries, the lawsuit says. Mrs. Haley, who was nursing, had to feed her baby formula.

"She got violently ill; she couldn't perform her duties as a mother," Mr. Casterline said of Mrs. Haley.

Both women say they suffered severe mental and physical pain and that their dining habits have been altered, the lawsuit says.

While I certainly agree that a dead rat doesn't belong in a McDonald's salad - nor a live one, for that matter - I think it's a bit of a stretch to turn a small, juvenile roof rat into a lawsuit for $1.7 million. Long-lasting physical injuries? Yeah, right.

Some form of compensation clearly is in order, but $1.7 million? Come on!


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