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US man sues over condom in hamburger

John Curran

A man who says he bit into a Burger King hamburger and found an unwrapped condom inside has sued the owner of the restaurant. Van Miguel Hartless (24), of Fair Haven, said on Friday he bought the Southwestern Whopper at a Burger King in Rutland on June 18 and made the discovery when he got home and started eating it.

A man who says he bit into a Burger King hamburger and found an unwrapped condom inside has sued the owner of the restaurant.

Van Miguel Hartless (24), of Fair Haven, said on Friday he bought the Southwestern Whopper at a Burger King in Rutland on June 18 and made the discovery when he got home and started eating it.

“My third bite into the burger, it was just a foreign taste,” he said. “It was a very sour, bitter sort of taste. It almost had a numbing sensation.

“As I went to bite down a little harder, I felt a rubber grind in between my teeth. I saw it half in my mouth, half hanging out. It was an immediate sick-to-my-stomach type of thing.”

Hartless said he waited three weeks before contacting an attorney.

His lawsuit, filed on November 16, names store owner Carrols, of Syracuse, New York, and seeks damages for pain and suffering, emotional duress and medical expenses.

Messages left with Carrols were not returned on Friday. A spokesperson for Burger King said it has referred the matter to Carrols.

Similar claims have turned out to be fraudulent in other cases. A California couple was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2006 for planting a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chilli in a scheme to extort money from the fast-food chain.

Hartless, a student at Green Mountain College, defended his claim.

A search of court filings in Rutland Superior Court—where Hartless’s suit was filed—and the civil court in El Paso, Texas, where he lived before showed no prior or existing lawsuits, according to the Rutland Herald, which first reported the lawsuit on Friday.

Hartless’s lawyer, Devin McLaughlin, said he had Hartless undergo a lie-detector test before the suit was filed, and that he passed “with flying colours”.

Hartless said he has suffered from vomiting, nightmares and emotional distress. He said he also has incurred medical expenses, because he is worried about whether the condom had been used.

He said he stored the hamburger and its original wrapper in a plastic bag in a freezer in his garage.—Sapa-AP

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