'2 bites could have killed me': Seattle woman sues Panda Express over wire in meal

A Renton woman is pursuing legal recourse against Panda Express after she claims to have ingested a wire from her meal, necessitating emergency medical intervention.

Miriam Yocupicio, a mother of four, alleges that the incident has left her apprehensive about food consumption, not only for herself but also for her children. She asserts that Panda Express must revise its cleaning procedures, suggesting that the wire may have originated from a grill brush. 

Representing Yocupicio, attorney Roseann Torres asserts this occurrence was not an isolated event.

Situated at the Landing Shopping Center in Renton, Panda Express has been a convenient dining option for Yocupicio and her family. However, a routine visit on March 31 took a dire turn when Yocupicio purportedly swallowed a wire bristle from her meal, resulting in severe pain and respiratory distress.

Recounting the harrowing ordeal, Yocupicio recalled, "as I took the second bite out of my chow mein I felt something got stuck to my throat."

In immediate distress, she drove herself to the emergency room, where X-rays revealed a sharp object lodged in her throat. Despite medical efforts, the wire could not be promptly removed, prolonging Yocupicio's agony.

"I try to stay with my mouth wide open, just so air could flow because I thought if I close my mouth and I can't breathe. Or if I swallow then I'm gonna get that one that sticks down my throat," Yocupicio told FOX 13 Seattle.

x-ray of neck and throat

A Renton woman is taking legal action against Panda Express after she allegedly swallowed a piece of wire from her meal, resulting in emergency surgery.  (FOX 13 Seattle)

Following hours of suffering, Yocupicio underwent surgery to extract the wire. Expressing gratitude for her survival, she said, "Thank God I'm alive," adding, "I get to go home with my children after this."

Post-surgery, Yocupicio was alarmed to discover the wire, prompting her to take immediate action to safeguard her children from potential harm.

Yocupicio preserved the wire, describing it as two to three inches long, sharp, and metallic.

wire in petri dish

A Renton woman is taking legal action against Panda Express after she allegedly swallowed a piece of wire from her meal, resulting in emergency surgery.  (FOX 13 Seattle)

"I feel very hurt," Yocupicio said. "I feel I was on the line, my children were on the line."

Oakland-based attorney Roseann Torres was enlisted to represent Yocupicio in a lawsuit against Panda Express, alleging negligence. Torres contends that similar incidents involving wire bristles have occurred previously, prompting legal action and court-mandated changes in cleaning practices.

"In prior lawsuits, they were told by the court to eliminate the use of a brush that has those particular types of bristles because of the fact that it could break off easily and get into the food by mistake," Torres stated.

Torres announced the lawsuit against Panda Express, citing negligence and seeking restitution for Yocupicio's ordeal. She emphasized the necessity of holding the corporation accountable.

"This should never have happened, and it should never happen again … and going forward," Torres asserted. "In order to get Panda Corporation's attention we have asked for damages in our complaint that are punitive."

Yocupicio hopes that her legal action will raise awareness and prevent similar incidents in the future.

"Two bites could have killed me," Yocupicio cautioned. "Be careful wherever you go."

Despite repeated attempts to solicit a response from Panda Express, the corporation had not provided comment at the time of publication.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.


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