The attorney for Diane Roney, a Standish woman engaged in a lawsuit against Wendy’s restaurant, said a verdict was expected on Thursday, Aug. 3, after this newspaper’s deadline.

“I think we’ll have a successful verdict,” Attorney Michael Maxwell, said Tuesday.

Roney, 58, took her case to U.S. District Court on Monday after being hospitalized in 2001 for allegedly contracting the E. coli virus as a result of biting into an undercooked cheeseburger at a Wendy’s restaurant in Saco. She is seeking compensation for $80,614 in medical expenses and other damages from the fast-food conglomerate.

Roney claimed that after taking two bites of the cheeseburger and realizing it was “messy,” she cut it in half and a “pool of blood” came out of the sandwich.

According to the defense, Roney did not bring the sandwich back to the counter, and neither did she complain to any Wendy’s employee nor ask for a replacement.

After suffering from diarrhea and “excruciating abdominal pain to the middle of her back,” Roney sought continuing medical treatment at Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center through February 2002.

“She could have died,” Maxwell said.

In a supporting statement, Wendy’s attorney, Jeffrey Edwards, claimed the restaurant practices consistent quality tests of their products, and that Roney may have suffered from a pre-existing condition whose symptoms are similar to those of the E. coli virus.

The defense also alleged that Roney, who is a teacher’s assistant at Edna Libby School in Standish, might have contracted the illness from one of her students.

Bob Bertini, a spokesperson for Wendy’s, said it was not confirmed that Roney even had the E. coli virus.

“It’s a unconfirmed incident that happed more than five years ago,” he said. “Based on all the evidence, we strongly feel that we are not responsible. We’re confident that the facts will show that.”

“(Bertini) is wrong,” said Maxwell, who claimed that although Roney did not list specific symptoms, such as bloody diarrhea or a fever, which are specific to E. coli, she did in fact suffer from the virus, according to Dr. Owen Pickus, a physician hired by Maxwell who specializes in internal medicine, oncology and hematology.

Wendy’s has also hired specialists to testify that Roney did not suffer from the virus, all of whom claim that the timeline of her illness and her symptoms were inconstant with those of the virus.

Wendy’s has already suffered financially from a hoax in which a California woman claimed to have found a human finger in a bowl of the restaurant’s chili, but Bertini declined to comment on the financial burden the Standish case may have on the company.

“I think the California situation is entirely different,” Bertini said. “It was a hoax. In this situation our ground beef is tested for E. coli, and the tests have been negative so far. Health inspections did not show any violations. The facts will come out in court.”


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