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Work keeps plaintiff from talks on needles-in-food settlement

  • AP
    FILE - In this 2009 photo provided by Tanya Bartholomew

The former soldier suing Burger King because he swallowed needles in a sandwich said he didn’t return to Hawaii for a settlement conference because he had to work, and his lawyers say the corporation hasn’t taken negotiations seriously.

It’s the latest in a squabble between the parties about who is to blame for failed attempts to settle the lawsuit by Clark Bartholo­mew, who said he was injured when he bit into a Triple Stacker purchased from a Burger King on a Hawaii base in 2010. His lawsuit said one needle pierced his tongue and another became lodged in his small intestine.

An attorney for Miami-based Burger King filed a motion last month asking for a dismissal, a fine and attorneys’ fees because Bartholo­mew didn’t attend the Sept. 10 settlement conference in federal court in Honolulu.

Bartholomew, who has since medically retired from the Army and lives in Chantilly, Va., said in a declaration filed in court earlier this week that he didn’t attend because he recently started working as a U.S. Park Police dispatcher and couldn’t take time off.

"Since I was a new employee, I had no time on the books to take time off to fly from Virginia to Hawaii, for the settlement conference," he said. He apologized to the court and said he and his wife would have been available by phone.

Burger King is "bullying a represented opponent for not appearing at a settlement conference," Bartholo­mew’s lawyers argued in court documents. The attorneys say Burger King violated court orders to exchange written offers and discuss a settlement before the conference.

Grant Kidani, the Hono­lulu attorney representing Burger King, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

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