In 1996, Wendie James was eating her fast-food taco when she noticed something unsettling on it – a bloody thumbprint.
Now, James and her brother have filed a lawsuit against Taco Bell Corp., claiming they were served blood-splattered Taco Bell tacos.
James and her brother Rustin Ridenour are seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress plus punitive damages because they feel the restaurant’s employees should have inspected the food before serving it.
Laurie Gannon, spokeswoman for Taco Bell of Irvine, Calif., said Wednesday that the corporation has not seen the lawsuit so she could not comment on its specifics.
“I will tell you that we do take all claims very seriously,” she said. “We apologize that it happened and we understand it can be very stressful. We’d like to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
James, 26, said she her brother have undergone several tests for the AIDS virus since the incident.
Although the tests have been negative, James said she suffered severe panic attacks and anxiety for months because of her fears about contracting the virus.
James said she and her brother had made a late-night trip to a Taco Bell drive-through in north Phoenix in 1996.
They were eating the food at her Glendale home when she noticed the bloody thumbprint on her taco.
She said they later found blood splattered on the bags and boxes, and on their Taco Bell tacos, nachos and tostadas.
James called the Taco Bell where they had purchased the food. A cook told her that he’d cut his finger but hadn’t realized it until they were gone, she said.
He also assured her that he’d recently had a negative test for the HIV virus, she said.
James said she decided to sue out of anger because the restaurant chain has refused to pay her medical bills and counseling costs and she wants her two children to have something should she contract the virus.
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