An Oklahoma City police officer is suing Taco Bell after he claims cologne and spicy chipotle were put on his steak quesadilla, causing severe burns to his throat.
Officer Shawn Byrne and his wife, Amanda Byrne, visited a local Taco Bell in February after helping to organize a charity event at a nearby church, NewsOK reported. He ordered a steak quesadilla and a Mountain Dew at the drive-thru window.
“After the person at the window took his order, he went over to two men employees and said something to them. They all looked over at him and started laughing,” the police officer claims in the lawsuit. “A few minutes later, the order taker brought his order and said he was sorry for the delay.”
Byrne said his “tongue, throat and the roof of his mouth began burning” following the third bite of his quesadilla.
The next morning, Byrne’s mouth and eye were still burning. He went to the hospital, where doctors discovered “burned spots on his throat,” according to the lawsuit.
Byrne said he could not go back to work because of the burns. He says he had to take more than 127 hours of sick leave from the police department, and missed an additional 68 hours of extra scheduled jobs.
Two weeks after eating the quesadilla, Byrne developed appendicitis, and had to have surgery. Doctors said the appendicitis could have been caused or exacerbated by the spicy quesadilla.
The officer kept the rest of the quesadilla for testing. Examinations showed the food contained cologne and a “high concentration of pepper,” according to the lawsuit. Byrne reported the incident to the Oklahoma City Police, who investigated further.
The investigation revealed that two of the three Taco Bell employees who handled Byrne’s order have criminal backgrounds. Surveillance video also showed the order taker dropping the packaging for Byrne’s food on the floor “picking it up, and nevertheless putting his food in it and handing it to him,” the lawsuit states.
Byrne filed his lawsuit against Taco Bell on March 31 in Oklahoma City federal court. He and his wife are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
“The Department of Agriculture said there was an extremely hot pepper sauce on the sandwich and there was cologne in the sandwich also,” the Byrnes’ attorney Brian Dell told KFOR. “Shawn does not wear cologne.”
One of the Taco Bell employees allegedly admitted that straight chipotle was used instead of quesadilla sauce on the Byrnes’ order.