Filed Under:Markets, Commercial Lines

10 Major Fast Food Restaurant Settlements

Fast food chains are bound to see claims; here are the most notable ones from the past three decades

10. Arby’s

Cost: $50,000

In 2005, Arby’s customer David Scheiding was enjoying a chicken sandwich when he discovered an inch-long piece of human flesh in his sandwich. Health investigators later found that the restaurant manager sliced his thumb while shredding lettuce and didn’t dispose of the bin that contained the lettuce. Scheiding sued Arby’s for more than $500,000 for negligence.

(AP Photo/David Duprey)

9. Wendy’s

Cost: $2.5 million

Anna Ayala, pictured here, attempted grand larceny in 2005 when she claimed she bit into a fingertip found in her bowl of Wendy’s chili. However, Ayala planted the fingertip into her chili after paying a man $100 for him to sever it. Ayala’s plot was exposed, and the felony complaint against her claimed Wendy’s restaurants in the Bay area lost $2.5 million—which, if true, can be attributed to the fact that Ayala’s story was so believable (if awful).

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

8. Taco Bell

Cost: N/A

A California woman is suing Taco Bell not for money, but rather for the company to start printing truth in its advertising. Allegedly, what Taco Bell advertises as “seasoned ground beef” is actually composed of just 35 percent ground beef—with the remaining 65 percent being composed of ingredients like sodium phosphate, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, soy lecithin, autolyzed yeast extract, wheat oats, isolated oat product, water and anti-dusting agent.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

7. Jack-in-the-Box

Cost: More than $15.6 million

In 1993, an E. coli outbreak cost Jack in the Box $15.6 million when undercooked patties caused 600 customers to fall ill and four children to die. Pictured here is Alyssa Chrobuck, who was hospitalized with E. coli during the 1993 outbreak, displaying a photo of her with her family before her illness, left, and as a child in her hospital bed. To this day, Chrobuck has a host of unusual health problems that she says her doctors have attributed to the incident.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

6. Burger King

Cost: N/A

The Center for Science in the Public Interest took action against Burger King in 2007 to get the restaurant chain to stop using trans fats in its food. The nonprofit took action after other fast food companies like Wendy’s and KFC were already transitioning to healthier options. Burger King eventually pledged to phase out trans-fat by Nov. 1, 2008.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

5. McDonald’s: Trans Fat

Cost: $7 million, plus $1.5 million

Stephen Joseph, president of, took action against major fast food chain McDonald’s in 2002 for neglecting to notify the public of a delay in cutting trans fats from its cooking oil.  McDonald’s agreed to give $7 million to the American Heart Association for a campaign to educate the public about trans fats, and spend $1.5 million to update the public on its progress in finding a trans-fat substitute.

(AP Photo/Rich Kareckas)

4. McDonald’s: McGlass Sandwich

Cost: $50,000

Vjolla Lecaj is pursuing $50,000 in damages from McDonald’s after biting into a spicy chicken sandwich that contained shards of glass. It is believed that the glass came from a coffee pot that overheated and exploded. Lecaj claims she suffered permanent oral injuries, and that the fast food restaurant failed to ensure her sandwich was ready to eat after making it.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

3. McDonald’s: McGauged

Cost: $5.5 million

In 2005, New York City police officer John Florio bit into a Big Mac and broke his tooth and suffered cuts to his mouth and throat from a shard of glass that was in the sandwich. Apparently, 18-year-old McDonald’s employee Albert Garcia planted the glass in the sandwich—and was discovered after another officer noticed the teen spit in his food. Florio sued McDonald’s for $5.5 million and Garcia was charged with felony assault against a police officer.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

2. McDonald’s: Beef Fries

Cost: $10 million

Vegetarians and various religious groups thought it was safe for them to eat French fries at McDonald’s, until it was discovered in the early 1990s that the chain was adding beef flavoring to its fries instead of vegetable oil, as it claimed. In 2002, the company issued an apology and paid $10 million to groups affected for inaccurately labeling its fries and hash browns as vegetarian.

(AP Photo/Rich Kareckas)

1. McDonald’s: Coffee Burns

Cost: $600,000

Parodied by many in the 1990s—including the popular sitcom “Seinfeld”—Liebeck v. McDonald’s is probably the most memorable fast food lawsuit. Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after claiming that the chain’s coffee was too hot. After initially being awarded $2.86 million in 1994 by an empathetic jury, the settlement was later reduced to reportedly below $600,000.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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