The United States is well-known to be the land of the bizarre lawsuit.
People from other countries look on in wonder at some of the things that go on in the US courts – and the incredible sums of money the cases cost.
Sometimes the extraordinary cases are actually more serious than made out to be.
READ MORE: THE INFAMOUS TIME AN ELDERLY WOMAN SUED MCDONALD’S OVER ITS SUPER-HOT COFFEE
For example, it’s often forgotten that the infamous case of the woman suing McDonald’s for its coffee being too hot suffered serious burns in the incident.
In court, it was revealed McDonald’s coffee is far hotter than regular coffee and reaches a temperature that can cause serious injury.
A little more than the “Why didn’t she know coffee was hot?” Dialogue around the case.
In other cases, some people try to scam the system to make money for themselves.
The case of Anna Ayala and Wendy’s is very much the latter.
$21 million in lost revenue
Anna Ayala was the woman whose scam had a massive impact on Wendy’s back in 2005.
The con itself was grotesque.
In March 2005, Ayala claimed to have found a “crunchy” severed human finger in her Wendy’s chili.
She launched a lawsuit, and an investigation began by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office.
It was determined that there was a finger, but it did not come from anyone in the restaurant or anyone at the facilities where the ingredients for the chili came from.
Initial reports suggested the finger was “fully cooked” by the heat of the chili – indicating it had been there a long time.
However, further examinations found the finger to be “not consistent with an object that had been cooked in chili at 170 degrees for three hours.”
READ MORE: “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” – THE STORY OF THE ICONIC 1980S WENDY’S COMMERCIAL
Police subsequently discovered Ayala had a history of making false lawsuits.
Investigations proved the allegation to be false, with a massive $21 million hit to Wendy’s business.
Ayala was charged with grand larceny and grand theft.
The theft charge was unrelated to Wendy’s and related to the fraudulent sale of a mobile home in San Jose in 2002.
Final tests had proved the finger had not been cooked in the chili.
During the suit, it was revealed Ayala was a scam artist with a penchant for filing lawsuits.
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Ayala’s husband bought the finger for $100
There was definitely a finger in Ayala’s chili, but mystery surrounded where it came from.
In May 2005, police revealed the finger had once belonged to a man called Brian Paul Rossiter.
It transpired he had lost his finger in an industrial accident at an asphalt company in December 2004.
Incredibly, he had sold his own finger to Ayala’s husband to settle a debt.
Police received the information via an anonymous call, later revealed to be Rossiter himself.
In September 2005, Ayala and her husband, Jaime Plascencia, admitted conspiring to create a false claim and attempted grand theft.
Ayala, unsurprisingly, was banned from all Wendy’s restaurants for life.
In January 2006, she was jailed for nine years.
Her husband, who supplied the finger, was jailed for even longer – 12 years and four months.
After her release, Ayala ended up in prison again for being an accessory to a felony, filing a false police report, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
This came in 2013 after her son accidentally shot himself in the ankle.
She claimed he had been shot by two men, but her son cracked during questioning and was subsequently arrested.
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