SAN JOSE, Calif. – A woman who bit down on a partial finger served in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant in California said she was disgusted by the experience, while her attorney has filed a claim with the franchise owner.
Anna Ayala (search), 39, of Las Vegas, was dining at the Wendy's in San Jose, Calif., on March 22 when officials said she scooped up the inch-and-a-half long fingertip in a mouthful of chili.
"Just knowing that there was a human remain in my mouth ... it is disgusting. It is tearing me apart inside," Ayala told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday.
The woman's attorney, Jeffrey Janoff, said a claim has been filed with the franchise owner, Fresno, Calif.-based JEM Management, Corp. (search) A spokesman for the company referred questions to Wendy's corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ohio.
"Their insurance company has responded to me," Janoff said, adding that the claim is the first move before filing a lawsuit.
Janoff said Ayala asked that she not be contacted for interviews but she recounted the ordeal in a televised interview.
"Suddenly, I chew something that's kind of hard, crunchy," she said. "I spit it out. At first I wasn't sure what it was. We started investigating and poking it, [with] other people, too. That's when we find there's something that looks like a nail.
"There's no words to describe what I felt, what was going through me. I mean, it is something that's — my God, it is sick."
The claim does not seek specific damages.
"Both sides now have to investigate the matter and determine what's going to be done, whether we can reach some type of out of court resolution," Janoff said.
Janoff would not speculate on the amount of money Ayala would seek if a lawsuit was filed.
"How many cases have you heard of like this? It's a little bit of a new area that we are exploring," he said. "It really depends on what she goes through and if she can recover from it emotionally. It's really too soon. I don't have a figure."
Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy's International Inc. (search), would not comment Monday on the claim.
"At this point our focus is on continuing to try to ascertain the facts in this case," Bertini said. "We continue to work closely with health officials, and we're doing everything we can to get to the truth."
Bertini said Wendy's maintains that the finger did not enter the food chain 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-related injuries," he said.
However, the Wendy's restaurant where the incident occurred, and others in the area, continue to see declining sales. Bertini said there are no reports of sales dips at any other Wendy's restaurants around the country.
"We're primarily seeing the impact at this point in the store that was involved in this, and in the immediate area," Bertini said.
Janoff said he doesn't know if a lawsuit would also name the Wendy's corporation.
"The local Wendy's store that sold it is responsible, there's no question about that," Janoff said. "Whether Wendy's corporation has some part to play, that's unclear at this point because we don't have enough information."
Meanwhile, authorities continued Monday searching for the person who lost the fingertip.
The Santa Clara County Coroner's Office (search) was using a partial fingerprint to attempt to find a match in an electronic database.