Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: Woman breaks tooth on a bite of WinCo chicken salad

This is a game of chicken, better yet, chicken salad, between a Marysville WinCo Foods store and their customer Christy Griffiths.

Christy bought herself a chicken salad at WinCo Foods in Marysville. What she got instead was a broken tooth that cost $1,500.00 to fix.

“I decided in the morning, chicken salad on crackers sounds good,” Christy said.

That first bite, Christy said, did taste good. But the second bite hit the bone and broke her molar.

“I went ‘I hope that didn’t break anything,’” Christy said. But it did - and she had to go to the dentist for repairs.

Christy says she contacted the store and provided all the necessary documentation - from the store receipt to the dentist’s note for the company’s insurer.

Soon after she was forced to chew on and taste the bitterness of their denial letter. They told Christi, they’re not liable because there was no negligence.

Christy, who is no chicken herself, reached out to Jesse Jones for help. After all, with all of the ready-made food on store shelves from Bellingham to Vancouver, how can the store not be liable for her broken tooth?

According to the top food and safety expert in America, Bill Marler, under Washington state law, they are not.

“It’s because the bone is part of the chicken. If it was a rock or a piece of metal and the same thing happened, she broke her tooth, the grocery store wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. It would be absolutely their fault,” Marler said.

Marler says the courts have fudged around the edges to say if it’s a naturally occurring part of the chicken and it causes harm, then it’s expected. He also says these laws might change over time, as we consume more processed food.

“We’re relying on restaurants and grocery stores to provide us with ready-to-eat food. The courts might start to take a slightly different attitude about what’s an added substance or what’s not,” Marler said.

Bottom line: Christy’s case could crack like an egg in court. Marler, who’s represented victims of every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States, says, “Legally, they probably have some ground to stand on ethically, morally, just fix the poor lady’s tooth.”