A Bucks County woman contends that she bit into a Chick-fil-A sandwich last year and discovered something baked into the bun that she hadn't ordered: a dead mouse.
In a lawsuit filed in county court, Ellen Manfalouti said she found the tiny rodent baked into the chicken sandwich her coworker at Nationwide Insurance brought back for her from the chain's Langhorne drive-through in November.
Manfalouti, 46, a Holland resident, had started to eat the sandwich in a conference room at her office when "I felt something funny on the bottom of the bun," she said in an interview Monday. "I turned it over. I said to [my coworker], 'They burned my roll really bad.' "
Her coworker Cara Phelan said that as soon as Manfalouti threw it on the table, "I realized it was a small rodent of some sort. I could see the whiskers and the tail."
Manfalouti's lawyer, Bill Davis, said that he filed the suit last week against Chick-fil-A franchise owner Dave Heffernan and the store, at 2424 E. Lincoln Highway, because both had "stonewalled" attempts to address the complaint. The suit seeks more than $50,000 for what it says are physical and psychological injuries Manfalouti has endured since the Nov. 25 episode.
Reached Monday, Heffernan said: "We're not going to make any comment about any allegations. It's an ongoing allegation and investigation." The Atlanta-based restaurant chain also emailed an identical response, attributing it to Heffernan.
According to a laboratory analysis provided by Manfalouti's lawyer, the animal was a small "rat/mouse," and appeared to have been baked onto the bottom of the bun.
Her lawsuit contends the defendants were negligent, saying they "failed to supervise employees who intentionally and/or knowingly served a sandwich to a customer with a dead rodent baked into the bun" and "failed to have proper procedures in place to inspect their own food products before selling them to customers."
Davis, in an email Monday, said they decided to file the lawsuit after months of seeking a resolution. He said Chick-fil-A sought to push responsibility onto the franchise owner, the owner said the bakery may have been to blame, and the bakery's insurance company denied liability.
"The franchise itself has never said who supplied the buns for their sandwiches. I have given them every chance in the world to talk to me about it and give their side, but they just referred it to their insurance company, who in turn has not engaged in any real conversation," Davis said.
After realizing that she almost bit into a dead rodent that day, Manfalouti said she "basically lost my mind. I screamed."
Nauseated and distraught, she walked outside to get some air, then returned and snapped pictures on her phone and called Heffernan. "Oh, this can't be good," she recalled him saying. She said she emailed him the photos and the receipt.
Later that day, she went to St. Mary Medical Center's emergency room. There, she said, she was given intravenous medication for her nausea. She later contacted her own doctor, who gave her a prescription for her nausea, she said. And she saw a psychologist for her anxiety.
She and Davis provided a copy of her discharge instructions from St. Mary, the receipt for the sandwich, and photos of the sandwich and dead rodent.
Over the next weeks, Manfalouti said, she was nauseated and could hardly eat.
"I had anxiety and nightmares, which I still do," she said. "The first month was really rough."