Woman who found finger in food will not sue Wendy's

Published April 13, 2005

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A woman who claimed she scooped up a human finger in her chili at a Wendy’s restaurant has decided not to sue the fast-food chain, her lawyer said yesterday.

Anna Ayala is dropping her claim because the police investigations, DNA tests, a search of her home and intense publicity have “been very difficult for her emotionally,” Attorney Jeffrey Janoff said.

He would not say if the decision was prompted by a report a woman in Nevada had lost her finger a month earlier in a leopard attack, and that it might be related to Ayala’s claim.

San Jose, Calif., police said they were investigating a possible connection to the finger of a woman who owned several exotic animals – and lost a digit in a Feb. 23 leopard attack, the San Jose Mercury-News reported.

Sandy Allman reportedly got her finger back in a bag of ice, and it could not be reattached after the attack in Pahrump, about 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

Ayala was visiting relatives in San Jose on yesterday and could not be reached for comment, said her son, Guadalupe Reyes, 18.

The teenager said Ayala doesn’t known Allman. “Mom doesn’t even know how to get to Pahrump,” Reyes said, adding that his mother was distressed by all the attention.

“The way I see it, it’s like a big show,” Reyes said. “Everyone’s saying this and that. It’s ridiculous. People are just trying to get the $50,000” reward offered by Wendy’s.

Efforts to contact Allman were unsuccessful.

Ayala, 39, was at a Wendy’s restaurant in San Jose on March 22 when she claimed she scooped up the 1 1/2-inch-long fingertip. She later filed a claim with the franchise owner, Fresno-based JEM Management Corp., which her attorney had said was the first step before filing a lawsuit.

Court records show Ayala has a history of making claims against corporations, including a former employer, General Motors and a fast-food restaurant. She acknowledged getting a settlement several years ago after her daughter was sickened at a Las Vegas restaurant.

“Lies, lies, lies, that’s all I am hearing,” she said last week after her home was searched last week by police. “They should look at Wendy’s. What are they hiding? Why are we being victimized again and again?”

Clark County District Attorney David Roger said yesterday documents relating to the warrant had been sealed.

Wendy’s spokesman Denny Lynch declined to comment on Ayala’s decision to drop the lawsuit, but said a reward hot line will stay open. “It’s very important to us to find out what really happened at the restaurant,” he said.

Wendy’s maintains the finger did not enter the chili in its ingredients. All the employees at the San Jose store were found to have all their fingers, and no suppliers of Wendy’s ingredients have reported any hand or finger injuries, the company said.