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Rich Brooks, CNN

Lawsuit: Man's soda spiked with 'heroin substitute' at Utah McDonald's

By Annie Knox, | Posted - Jul. 31, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A South Jordan man has sued McDonald's alleging a Diet Coke he ordered from a Riverton drive-thru was spiked with a "heroin substitute" that the state crime lab later detected in the drink.

Attorneys for Trevor Walker claim the drug forced him to black out temporarily, damaged his nerve cells and mixed with medication he was taking in a way that could have killed him. The August 2016 ordeal gave him severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the complaint filed Monday.

"These have required Trevor to seek counseling, have interrupted his closest relationships, have impacted his work, have disrupted his sleep and diet habits, and have caused severe distress," the suit says. "He has ongoing needs for medication and counseling that will continue for the foreseeable future and likely his entire life."

The civil complaint alleges negligence and says the restaurant violated safety requirements and failed to properly supervise employees. It seeks damages to cover Walker's medical expenses, attorney costs and loss of income, plus a punitive payment. No dollar amount is listed.

Other defendants include Coca-Cola and its Draper distributor, Swire Coca-Cola. None of the companies responded immediately to requests for comment Tuesday.

Walker ordered from the drive-thru on Aug. 12, 2016, taking home meals for his family, along with two Diet Cokes for him and his wife, Rachelle Walker, according to the suit. He sipped one of the sodas on his way home and later was holding his 1-year-old and typing an email when his fingers stopped working, he lost the feeling in his arms and legs, and his vision became distorted, the lawsuit alleges.

Walker passed the baby to his 8-year-old and thumbed text messages to his wife, saying in part that something was wrong and "I am having sensations in my arms and everything is moving slowly. I'm feeling scared. I don't know what to do," according to the court filing.

He blacked out when he tried to stand, fell on a table and could not get up until his wife, who had been working in their in-home salon, arrived and took him to a nearby hospital.

Utah's state crime lab tested a sample of the drink and detected buprenorphine, a drug used to treat painkiller addiction, documents the attorneys attached to their complaint show. The drug generally is applied under the tongue and "could easily be dissolved into a drink," the suit states.

(Trevor Walker) has ongoing needs for medication and counseling that will continue for the foreseeable future and likely his entire life.

–Lawsuit against McDonald's

A urine test at the hospital also identified the drug, Walker's attorneys wrote.

At the hospital, Rachelle Walker compared the sodas and found her husband's "had speckles and a film on the surface" that had earlier been concealed by the drink's lid, the suit contends, and she called Unified police from the hospital.

The court documents say the fast-food restaurant's surveillance footage was deleted even though police immediately began investigating. The McDonald's restaurant provided footage from the following day and allowed the Aug. 12 video to be deleted, the suit states. It goes on to say the lack of video is "the primary reason that none of the employees have been arrested."

An employee who was the manager's brother routinely posted on social media about his drug use and "had posted about disrespecting McDonald's customers through the drive-thru window," the suit states. Walker's attorneys argue the manager at the time knew about her younger brother's behavior, and the pair quit shortly after the police interviewed them as part of a criminal investigation. The former employees are not named in the lawsuit.


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