A Michigan family says their daughter is lucky to be alive after eating at a Wendy's restaurant and becoming deathly ill. The girl's parents have filed a $20 million lawsuit against the restaurant's franchise owner.

Aspen Lamfers' parents say the girl's life was nearly perfect prior to consuming food prepared at the restaurant. She was healthy, excelled at sports, and was a model student before eating at the Wendy's restaurant in Jenison, Michigan in August 2022. Jenison is located in Ottawa County, a few miles southwest of Grand Rapids.

Lamfers had no idea that the hamburger, chicken nuggets, and French fries she ordered after softball practice would lead to weeks in the hospital.

Hospitalized with an E. Coli Infection

A few days after eating at the restaurant, Aspen began suffering from abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and blood in her stool. Her parents tell WOOD-TV that she was hospitalized for an E. coli infection that later turned into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which attacked her kidneys.

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Tom Worsfold is the family's attorney. He says the girl had to be on dialysis and her condition continued to get worse once she was in the hospital.

“The infection continued to progress and attacked her pancreas and her brain,” Worsfold said. “She had significant brain swelling suffering seizures while in the hospital, she had left-sided paralysis.”

 

Wendy's Restaurant Had Numerous Health Violations

Health department records indicate that the restaurant closed voluntarily in July 2022 to fix a water leak, retrain staff on food safety practices, and because of other health risks. It reopened on August 1, the day Lamfers ate at the restaurant.

Health inspectors had previously cited the restaurant for a laundry list of violations.

Investigators found spoiled and moldy food, day-old chili that had been left out, and un-dated produce. There was evidence that unwashed cutting boards had been left out and that food had been left out overnight. Mold and mildew had been present throughout the facility.

One health inspector noted, "Immediate health risks may get the staff and public sick."

Family Files Heft Lawsuit Against Restaurant Group

Lamfers' parents are suing the restaurant's owner Meritage Hospitality Group for $20 million in damages including past and future economic losses. The family's lawyer says the suit takes into consideration a loss of lifetime earning potential because of her brain and cognitive impairments.

Meritage Hospitality Group owns approximately 380 restaurants in 16 states.

 

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