Question: What can I do if I found a stapler in my sandwich? I was eating a sub from Subway about an hour ago. As I almost finished my sub, I noticed a staple with my finger on the bread. Is there anything I can do? It could have resulted in something much more serious if I didn't notice it and I swallowed the staple. I talked to an employee and they just offered me a new sub. I have pictures of the staple inside the bread and out.

Answer: It must have been a very large sandwich for you to not notice there was a "stapler" in between the bread. Seriously, wow, an entire stapler? Or did you mean a metal staple. I'm really not making fun of you, well maybe a little, but if you want to engage in the legal process you need to speak precisely and say what you mean to say. As a lawyer I constantly struggle with improving how accurately I communicate and you must keep in mind, this rule of precision applies equally to lay people who become a part of our legal system.

Finding foreign objects in food is a fairly common occurrence. Contaminated foods causing some sort of injury is one of the most difficult cases to prove because there have been people who put things into their own food and falsely claim it came that way. The story about finding a rat in a Coke bottle comes to mind. So everyone has a healthy bit of skepticism when someone makes a claim of food contamination. That's your first problem; how do you prove the staple in the bread came to you that way. Didn’t you hand the sandwich back to the store clerk? Who then destroy it. Poof! There goes the evidence.

A second problem would have been proving damages. Almost, could have, would likely to have caused are all ways of saying: Nothing happened to me. And that is a major problem with this food contamination case; you have no damages. You saw the staple and stopped eating before you ingested it. Good for you, but bad for the case. Now I'm not suggesting you should have eaten the staple, that would be somewhat idiotic, but being able to prove the fourth element of any personal injury lawsuit is mandatory and in your situation you aren't able to prove damages. Remember we have to prove duty, a breach of the duty, proximate cause and damages. If any one of the four elements is missing you lose. That's tort's 101.

In this case, sorry to rain on your parade, but my legal advice is you don't have a case.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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