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Case of needle burger at Hawaii base nears trial

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:35 a.m. HST, Jun 03, 2014

A former soldier's lawsuit alleging he bit into needles in a Burger King sandwich purchased at Hawaii's Schofield Barracks is headed to trial in August after a settlement could not be reached.

Clark Bartholomew and his family sued in federal court in Honolulu after he said he was injured in 2010 on the sprawling central Oahu base. The former Army sergeant's lawsuit says one needle pierced his tongue when he bit into his Triple Stacker sandwich, and another was lodged in his small intestine, requiring hospitalization.

The defendants include Miami-based Burger King Corp. and the U.S. Army and Air Force Exchange, which operates the franchise.

"We don't feel there's any merit in the claims," Grant Kidani, a Honolulu attorney representing Burger King, said Monday, adding that the franchise is "totally operated by the government."

A spokesman for the exchange referred questions to the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, who didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, government attorneys argued that Bartholomew can't sue because he suffered his injuries during the course of military service. U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright refused to throw out the case.

Seabright's order issued last month noted that Bartholomew was at home on base Dec. 1, 2010, when his wife brought home a value meal for his dinner. He was home because of back pain.

"Eating a Burger King Triple Whopper (equally available to the military or general public) while at home on a sick day does not implicate military command or discipline," Seabright's order concluded.

Because a settlement wasn't reached after a conference last week, trial was scheduled for August.

Bartholomew, 46, has since medically retired and lives in Chantilly, Virginia.

"I'm very disgusted," his wife, Tanya Bartholomew, said of the lack of a settlement. "I think we're more irritated than anything. We're not in Hawaii, so now we have to spend even more money to fly to Hawaii to have a trial when everyone agrees someone screwed up."

Blame, she said, is being passed around.

The argument that her husband's injuries were the result of military service is insulting, she said.

"Him going to war in Iraq has nothing to do with him going to Burger King," she said of her husband. He was a federal police officer assigned to the Pentagon on 9/11, and the terrorist attacks prompted him to enlist in the Army and serve two tours in Iraq, where he injured his back, she said.

"He went back into the military to serve his nation," said the family's attorney, Paul Saccoccio, of Haleiwa, Hawaii. "Why would he come out and be a vexatious litigant when he was prepared to die for his country?"

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NanakuliBoss wrote:
How does the needle get pass the chewing process and swallowing process with out discomfort?
on June 2,2014 | 01:24PM
PCWarrior wrote:
You order a triple whopper and now you worried about your health?
on June 3,2014 | 01:38PM
Mikehono wrote:
Kudo's to Judge Seabright for understanding that the Ferris doctrine does not apply in this situation.
on June 2,2014 | 01:44PM
justin_thyme wrote:
It's the Feres doctrine, actually. Sadly, Judge Seabright's fair decision will be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If his ruling prevails there, the next stop will probably be the U.S. Supreme Court, where it almost assuredly will be overturned by the conservative majority. Remember Atkinson v. U.S.?
on June 2,2014 | 03:21PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Burger King, like most fast food companies, have their hamburger beef patties made by suppliers they contract with. They don't make the hamburger patties in their stores. That means that it is very possible that needles were placed in a patty by a supplier's worker. Ultimately Burger King is responsible and they should have made a settlement. Anyone remember Burger King's initial denial of horse meat in their beef and then later admitting that it was true?
on June 2,2014 | 09:35PM
localguy wrote:
And you would not find this during the chewing process? I find fish bones very quickly. A needle would be even more obvious. Something smells here and it isn't BK. More like someone filing a false, get rich quick claim.
on June 3,2014 | 05:47AM
localguy wrote:
Judge is lolo in not understanding active duty military on on duty 24/7 throughout the term of their contract. And agree, how did these so called needles get past the chewing process unless he was so drunk he didn't have a clue. Then again, perhaps he was trying to self pierce himself and just "lost" the needles. As for who screwed up it appears it is the family filing a false claim.
on June 3,2014 | 05:46AM
justin_thyme wrote:
Wow, what a perverted viewpoint, localguy. You have already decided that this is a so-called "frivolous" lawsuit even though no evidence or testimony has been presented in court. Someone remind me to bounce your 'okole off the jury panel if you're ever selected as a juror in a case I'm trying.
on June 3,2014 | 10:32AM
hawaiikone wrote:
So how'd the needle get into his intestine?
on June 3,2014 | 12:07PM
false wrote:
Where's the beef? Gimmee the money or a job at Burger King. More fries?
on June 3,2014 | 09:34AM
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