SANTA ANA, Calif. — Four women sued an Irvine restaurant after one of them said she found a condom in her clam chowder when they dined there last year. Laila Sultan said she was eating at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant on Feb. 26, 2002, when she bit into something rubbery.
“We said, ‘Of course. You’re chewing on a clam,’” said Paula Wild, one of her dining companions. When she spit it out, Sultan, 48, said she discovered it was an unwrapped, rolled-up condom. She said she spent the next 15 minutes in a restroom vomiting and has since seen a psychiatrist and taken medication for depression and anxiety.
Sultan, Wild, Cindy Hammond and Annamarie Sigala, who were all having the clam chowder that day, filed suit, claiming negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Their case is scheduled for trial Jan. 12. McCormick & Schmick’s, a privately owned chain, owns 42 upscale restaurants in 19 states.
How could a condom get into the chowder? It’s a mystery, Patrick Stark, attorney for McCormick & Schmick’s, told the Los Angeles Times. The restaurant sued American Roland Food Corp., which supplied the clams, but a judge ruled for the supplier in September, according to The Times. At the forthcoming trial, the restaurant chain will argue that “there is absolutely no evidence to suggest the restaurant was the source of the condom, or any employee of the restaurant,” Stark told The Times.
“Either it came from (the four women) or it was thrown in as a practical joke by another patron at the restaurant.” The condom was seized by the restaurant manager, the women said, adding that he told them the insurance company had instructed him not to return it or let them photograph it. The women’s lawsuit says the condom was “a possibly used one,” but Stark told The Times that, because it was rolled up, “it was clearly unused.”
Sultan, who lives in Stanton, said she had visited the restaurant before and never had a problem. On this occasion, she said, she and her companions ordered drinks, appetizers and soup, but sent the soup back because it was lukewarm. When she got it back she found the condom.