11-Year-Old Nearly Dies After Eating at Wendy’s – Lawsuit

An 11-year-old softball player from Jenison, Michigan, who suffered severe health complications after eating at a local Wendy’s in the summer of 2022, is now at the center of a $20 million lawsuit against the company operating the restaurant. The lawsuit alleges that the child, Aspen Lamfers, contracted an E. coli infection due to the restaurant’s unsanitary conditions, leading to kidney failure and permanent brain damage.

The lawsuit was filed in Ottawa County Circuit Court in early April by the law firm Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman, PLLC, representing Aspen’s mother, Joy Lamfers. The complaint links Aspen’s infection to a widespread E. coli outbreak in late July 2022, which was traced back to lettuce served at Wendy’s restaurants across several states. Despite not consuming lettuce during her visit on August 1, 2022, the lawsuit suggests that cross-contamination may have occurred.

Tom Worsfold, an attorney representing the family, stated in an interview with WOOD that the “Biggie Bag” meal Aspen ordered, which included a burger, fries, and chicken nuggets, could have been the source of the infection. He described it as “almost a miracle” that Aspen survived the ensuing health crisis, which began three days after her meal at Wendy’s.

The lawsuit details the severe impact of the infection on Aspen’s health. She became critically ill, suffering from acute kidney injury, permanent brain damage, a seizure disorder, pancreatitis, diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions. The complaint recounts Aspen’s struggle, including her becoming non-verbal and partially paralyzed on her left side.

Aspen’s health ordeal continued throughout August 2022, and she was discharged from an inpatient facility on September 9, 2022. Her recovery involved extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy, nursing care, counseling, and medical supervision, including ongoing kidney dialysis. The lawsuit notes that Aspen’s kidneys were severely damaged.

The lawsuit also highlights the long-term effects of Aspen’s illness on her academic performance. Her reading level has dropped by two grades, and her math scores have significantly declined.

The complaint points to an inspection of the Wendy’s location by the Ottawa County Health Department on July 27, 2022, just days before Aspen’s visit. The inspection report cited “gross insanitary conditions” and numerous health and food code violations, including mold and pest infestation.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial on negligence and gross negligence claims and $20 million in damages for Aspen’s permanent disability, past and future extreme pain and suffering, and loss of life expectancy due to the E. coli infection.