Posts tagged as:

finger in the chili

…may not be all that it seemed, reports a Mississippi newspaper. It’s almost enough to make you rethink the cathartic value of mass Internet shaming. What if the process could be misused by people with agendas?


“A woman who made international headlines when she lied about finding a severed finger in a bowl of chili at a Wendy’s restaurant in San Jose is expected to return to prison for concocting another tale – that someone had shot her son, a prosecutor said Wednesday.” [Henry K. Lee,, autoplays]


Food roundup

by Walter Olson on March 19, 2013

  • If you thought “finger in chili” was bad, meet the Utah couple arrested on charges of planting razor blade shards in doughnuts and swallowing some [KSL, Daily Mail]
  • My talk a few weeks ago as part of Cato Institute panel on nanny state [YouTube, Bruce Majors]
  • New Reason-RUPE public opinion survey finds public broadly opposed to food and drink bans [Sullum]
  • Feds’ bad advice on polyunsaturated fat: more damaging than any mass tort in sight? [David Oliver] More: Hans Bader.
  • Coroner blames woman’s death on Coca-Cola addiction [TV NZ] Monster Beverage: natural causes, not caffeine toxicity, killed Maryland teen [Reuters, NYT, earlier] More: Jacob Sullum.
  • Oh, CSPI, thou contradictest thyself [Baylen Linnekin; more from him on parents' and kids' food choices quoting me, NYC soda ban]
  • “Bloomberg limits seder portions” [Purim spoof, New York Jewish Week]
  • Kelly Brownell, guru of obesity-reduction-through-coercion formerly based at Yale, named dean of public policy school at Duke;
  • “A Knife, a Walmart Birthday Cake and a Frenzy of Overreaction” [Free-Range Kids] Mardi Gras perennial: can you buy king cake with baby figurine already in it? [same, earlier]
  • Now they tell us: NYT book review not conspicuously enthusiastic about Michael Moss anti-food-biz book hyped to the rafters in NYT magazine three weeks earlier [Ira Stoll, SmarterTimes, our take]


Anna Ayala served four years of a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty (with Jaime Plascencia) to attempted grand theft and the filing of a false insurance claim in the famous Wendy’s chili incident. Now she’s facing charges over new fibs allegedly told to the police to cover for her son in a gun possession case [San Jose Mercury News, earlier]

Police say her scheme of planting a cooked rat in her lunch was miscalculated because the restaurant doesn’t use microwaves. She’s facing nine months in jail. [Appleton Post-Crescent via Obscure Store]


April 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 22, 2010

  • Liquor commissioner of New Hampshire nabbed on DWI rap, refuses breathalyzer test [WMUR]
  • Slumber party liability waivers are something we’ve reported on before. But home trampoline disclaimers? [Free-Range Kids]
  • Website’s terms and conditions include giving up your immortal soul [Popehat]
  • Scottish jury says charges “not proven” against lawyers in case of monetary demand for return of stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting [Guardian, earlier]
  • If you’re going to shake down food makers with false claims of contaminants in their wares, it’s best to vary your story patterns [Tacoma News-Tribune, Seattle Times]
  • “My task is simple: spew foundationless tripe that turns itself into a pre-trial settlement demand.” [The Namby Pamby, a lawyer blog I really should have linked before now] More: Daniel Fisher, Forbes.
  • Why plaintiffs lawyers aren’t so thrilled about recent Toyota revelations: most are invested in blaming electronics, not stuck pedals or mats [WSJ Law Blog]
  • Duck hunters sue guide over disappointing trip [Fred Hartman, Fort Bend, Texas, Herald]


Speaking of national media hoaxes, today’s San Jose Mercury News profiles the post-incarceration life of Anna Ayala. The digital pioneer is divorced from co-conspirator Jaime Plascencia, who is still in prison. Ayala’s greatest trauma from her four years in prison (out of her nine-year sentence) seems to be that everyone called her the Finger Lady. She’s permanently banned from Wendy’s, so she’ll miss out on the Baconator.


February 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 6, 2010

  • Wronged wife loses suit under California “Drug Dealer Liability Act” (DDLA) against mistress who supplied crack cocaine to husband [OnPoint News]
  • “D.C. Circuit to Former Judge in Pants Lawsuit: Follow the Rules” [NLJ, more, earlier]
  • “Law firm demands retailer destroy all copies of Olivia Munn comic, retailer refuses” [BoingBoing, HeavyInk, earlier on TJIC]
  • Can’t find jury for tobacco trial: “Lawyers excused a woman who said people have no right to sue over diseases that are disclosed on the warning label of a package.” [Russell Jackson, Chamber-backed W.V. Record]
  • Despite widespread misconception to the contrary, editing comments generally does not open blogger to liability over what remains [Citizen Media Law]
  • To heck with HIPAA, introduce your patients to each other if you think they’ll get along [Musings of a Dinosaur]
  • Devoted daughter vs. RSPCA: epic will contest in Britain over family farm bequest [Times Online]
  • Woman found guilty after planting dead rat in meal at upscale restaurant [Appleton Post-Crescent via Lowering the Bar and Obscure Store]

Keep my finger, vote Labour

by Baylen Linnekin on September 22, 2008

Newcastle, England leaflet distributor (and former Labour Party council member) Mark Hunter is suing a dog owner whose Jack Russell terrier, the imaginatively named Jack, allegedly bit off the tip of the leafleteer’s finger as he pushed election paraphernalia through a front-door letterbox. While both Hunter and dog owner Mark Monroe seem to agree that part of Hunter’s bloody finger did indeed end up on the floor of Monroe’s home, it’s unclear how Jack could have bitten Monroe through the letterbox–which boasts a contraption known as a “letterbox guard”. Also unclear: why Monroe put Hunter’s finger in his freezer (keeping it for several months before ultimately tossing it in the rubbish), and why neither Hunter nor Monroe immediately reported the incident to police. Hunter is seeking about $25,000.

Though Monroe froze the finger, he was kind enough not to toss it in the chili. (“Labour campaigner’s ‘finger bitten off by dog’ as he pushed leaflet through letterbox”, The Daily Mail, Sept. 22).

{ 1 comment }

September 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 3, 2008


February 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 12, 2007

  • Divorcing Brooklyn couple has put up sheetrock wall dividing house into his and hers [L.A. Times, AP/Newsday]

  • Boston Herald appeals $2 million libel award to Judge Ernest Murphy, whom the paper had portrayed as soft on criminals (earlier: Dec. 8 and Dec. 23, 2005) [Globe via Romenesko]

  • Updating Jul. 8 story: Georgia man admits he put poison in his kids’ soup in hopes of getting money from Campbell Soup Co. [AP/AccessNorthGeorgia]

  • Witness talks back to lawyer at deposition [YouTube via Bainbridge, %&*#)!* language]

  • Prominent UK business figure says overprotective schools producing generation of “cotton wool kids” [Telegraph]

  • State agents swoop down on Montana antique store and seize roulette wheel from 1880s among other “unlicensed gambling equipment” [AP/The Missoulian]

  • “You, gentlemen, are no barristers. You are just two litigators. On Long Island.” [Lat and commenter]

  • Some Dutch municipalities exclude dads from town-sponsored kids’ playgroups, so as not to offend devout Muslim moms [Crooked Timber]

  • As mayor, Rudy Giuliani didn’t hesitate to stand up to the greens when he thought they were wrong [Berlau @ CEI]

  • Australia: funeral homes, fearing back injury claims, now discouraging the tradition of family members and friends being pallbearers [Sydney Morning Herald]

  • Asserting 200-year-old defect in title, Philly’s Cozen & O’Connor represents Indian tribe in failed lawsuit laying claim to land under Binney & Smith Crayola factory [three years ago on Overlawyered]


One year for mouse-in-soup scam

by Ted Frank on September 15, 2006

Ricky Lee Patterson had been seeking a $500,000 settlement from Cracker Barrel restaurant. “Prosecutors brought charges after an examination of the mouse found that it died of a fractured skull, had no soup in its lungs and had not been cooked – all of which suggested the rodent was dropped into the customer’s soup after it had died.” (AP, Sep. 14).


Bunco burrito

by Walter Olson on June 6, 2006

Headline of this Traverse City, Mich. tale says it all: “Man Who Put Dead Mouse in Burrito at Taco Bell Given Prison Time” (AP/, Jun. 2). One word of advice: if you’re going to pull this kind of stunt, don’t use the kind of frozen mice that pet stores sell as food for snakes, at least not if anyone can testify to your having bought them.

Chili finger duo sentenced

by Walter Olson on January 19, 2006

Fickle finger of fate, cont’d: dissatisfied Wendy’s customer Anna Ayala drew a nine-year sentence while Jaime Plascencia, her boyfriend and the procurer of the severed digit, drew twelve years. “The two pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to file a false insurance claim and attempted grand theft with damages exceeding $2.5 million.” (“Chili Finger Couple Get Stiff Sentences”, AP/NBC San Diego, Jan. 18). Our previous coverage: Apr. 8, Apr. 9, Apr. 13, Apr. 20, Apr. 22, Apr. 27, May 16, Sept. 10.

{ 1 comment }

Anna Ayala and husband Jaime Placencia, the couple “accused of conspiring to put a human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili[,] pleaded guilty today in a Santa Clara County courtroom.” (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 9). See May 18, May 16, etc.

“The Las Vegas man whose severed fingertip ended up in a cup of Wendy’s chili gave his mangled digit to a co-worker to settle a $50 debt — but had no idea it would be used in an alleged scheme to swindle the fast-food chain, the man’s mother said Tuesday.” (Alan Gathright and Meredith May, “Worker gave his finger to settle $50 debt”, San Francisco Chronicle, May 18)(see May 16, etc.).

San Jose police say the finger that Anna Ayala says she found in a bowl of Wendy’s chili (Apr. 27, Apr. 22, etc.) has now been identified; it belonged to a co-worker of her husband, James Plascencia, who lost it in the tailgate of a truck in an on-the-job accident. Authorities believe it then fell into the possession of Mr. Plascencia. (Dan Reed, Linda Goldston and Chuck Carroll, “The jig is up”, San Jose Mercury News, May 14; “Worker: Finger found in chili severed in tailgate”, AP/CNN, May 15).

Live from Wendy’s

by Walter Olson on April 27, 2005

Anne Haight is photoblogging the scene of the finger incident (Apr. 25)(via Instapundit)(see Apr. 22, etc.)