Hindsight - 9 Years Ago
California Lawyer

Hindsight - 9 Years Ago

May 2014

An announcement in May 2005 by San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis revived interest in a gruesome hoax that had transfixed the country. Davis said the fingertip that Las Vegas resident Anna Ayala claimed she'd found weeks earlier in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose actually came from an acquaintance of her husband who had suffered an accident. Brian Rossiter sold his fingertip to Ayala's husband for $100.

Ayala, who already had been charged in the case, eventually dropped her claim against Wendy's and ended up serving four years in prison for insurance fraud - though maybe an award for audacity was in order: "Suddenly, I chew something that's kind of hard, crunchy," she told ABC's Good Morning America early on. Ayala also was ordered to pay Wendy's $21,254,307 to compensate for profits lost to adverse publicity (see People v. Ayala, 66 Cal. Rptr. 3d 228 (2007)); her husband drew a sentence of more than twelve years on various charges.

A serial plaintiff - she had filed multiple questionable claims and lawsuits against corporations, employers, and other fast-food restaurants before taking Rossiter's fingertip to Wendy's - Ayala apparently didn't learn her lesson. She went back to prison in 2013 for filing a false police report about nonexistent assailants after her son accidentally shot himself.

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