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Fast-Food Finger Finder Drops Lawsuit

A woman who claimed she scooped up a human finger in her chili at a Wendy's restaurant (search) has decided not to sue the fast-food chain.

Anna Ayala (search) dropped her claim because it "has caused her great emotional distress and continues to be difficult emotionally," said her attorney, Jeffrey Janoff.

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

Court records show Ayala has a history of making legal claims against corporations, including a former employer, General Motors and a fast-food restaurant. She acknowledged she received a settlement for medical costs several years ago after claiming that her daughter was sickened after eating at a Las Vegas restaurant.

Phone calls to Ayala's house in Las Vegas went unanswered Wednesday. Investigators searched her home last week as part of their probe into how a finger ended up in the chili.

San Jose police say they're investigating a possible connection between the finger and the owner of several exotic animals at Pahrump, Nev., who lost one of her fingers in a leopard attack on Feb. 23.

The San Jose Mercury-News said the finger would not be reattached and was returned to the woman, Sandy Allman. She has an unlisted number and could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment.

Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch declined to comment on Ayala's decision to drop the lawsuit but said a reward hot line to receive tips will remain open. Wendy's has offered $50,000 to the first person who can provide verifiable information that identifies the origin of the finger.

"It's very important to us to find out what really happened at the restaurant," Lynch said. "We will continue to fully cooperate with the police investigation."

Wendy's maintains the finger did not come from any of its ingredients. None of the employees at the San Jose store had lost any fingers, and no suppliers of Wendy's ingredients reported any hand or finger injuries, the company said.

The Santa Clara County coroner's office used a partial fingerprint to search for a match in an electronic database but came up empty. DNA testing is still being conducted on the finger.