A Connecticut woman is suing a New York salad chain after she claims she found a severed human finger mixed in with the greens she was eating. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Westchester County Supreme Court, alleges that Allison Cozzi of Greenwich bit into a portion of a severed finger while eating a salad purchased from Chopt Creative Salad Company on April 7, 2023.
Cozzi asserts in the legal filing that the finger belonged to a Chopt manager who had accidentally “chopped off” a portion of her left pointer finger while slicing arugula in the Mount Kisco, New York location earlier that day.
“Shortly after Cozzi purchased the salad, while she was eating the salad, she realized that she was chewing on a portion of a human finger that had been mixed in, and made a part of, the salad,” the lawsuit states.
Manager Sought Treatment, But Food Not Discarded
After cutting her finger, the manager left to seek medical treatment. However, according to health department records cited in the lawsuit, workers “did not realize the arugula was contaminated with human blood and a fingertip skin” in the manager’s absence.
The tainted arugula was then allegedly served to customers like Cozzi.
An incident report from the Westchester County Health Department shows the location was fined $900 in September for “violating state rules aimed at preventing imminent health hazards” stemming from the severed finger incident.
Cozzi Says She Suffered Severe Distress
In her legal complaint, Cozzi asserts that consuming part of the severed finger left in her salad caused her to suffer “serious personal injuries,” including panic attacks, migraines, nausea, vomiting, and shoulder pain.
Cozzi’s attorney, Marc Reibman, told NBC News that his client “does not want any publicity” or added stress and anxiety from revisiting the disturbing event.
“As a matter of common sense and public interest, the failure to supervise the preparation and service of food in a manner that protects the public is a blatant deviation from accepted safe practice and deserves significant compensation,” Reibman stated.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in monetary damages from Chopt and its parent company for negligence and “statutory violations.”
Chopt Creative Salad Company, founded in 2011 in New York City, has over 70 locations, primarily across the Northeastern and Southeastern United States. The fast-casual chain is known for serving customized chopped salads featuring local ingredients.
Similar Fast Food Incidents in Recent Decades
This is not the first legal case involving an allegedly tainted restaurant meal. Over the years, multiple incidents have made headlines of customers purportedly finding unpleasant surprises mixed in with their food:
- In 2005, a Las Vegas woman claimed to find a severed finger in chili from Wendy’s. She later admitted the finger was planted as part of an extortion attempt.
- That same year, a man sued Arby’s after reportedly biting into a slice of human skin inside his chicken sandwich, which came from an employee who cut his thumb.
- In 2017, a Florida man filed a lawsuit against Starbucks, alleging he was served a Frappuccino contaminated with blood.
So, while rare, restaurants sometimes face disturbing claims of food contamination from employee mishaps.
Cozzi and her legal team now argue that Chopt failed to follow proper health precautions, leading to her traumatic injury. Her case joins a line of similar customer attempts to hold eateries accountable for purported gross safety oversights.