FOX 2 (WJBK) - It was supposed to be a fun night with friends at his favorite restaurant, Olive Garden, but it turned into a nightmare when Thomas Howie started eating his minestrone soup.
"I took a bite, felt something stab the inside of my cheek, it felt like a needle," said Howie."I lunged and choked myself almost, so when I hacked it up and realized, into a napkin, it was, uh.'"
He found a rat’s foot in his food and took a graphic photo of it. That is part of the lawsuit Howie’s attorney filed against Olive Garden on Friday.
"How did it get there?" said attorney Daniel Gwinn. "How did it happen that a claw of a rat was served in food and lacerated Mr. Howie’s cheek?
"We think the claw just kind of hooked in, because I remember when I was gonna swallow, something was pulling."
It happened in March at the Olive Garden on Van Dyke in Warren.
Howie’s attorney has been trying to settle out of court with the restaurant chain — but he says their attorneys have not been responsive.
"We were also very disappointed by what I perceived to be a very cavalier attitude," said Gwinn.
One staff member in particular: "His comment was quite rude: 'We don’t even serve meat in our minestrone,'" Howie said. "I was kind of shocked, like why would you even say something like that?"
Howie says the whole ordeal was mortifying.
"I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t believe this was happening, it was devastating," Howie said.
Months later he says it’s still affecting him emotionally.
"The thought of even going to a restaurant right now is just revolting," he said.
He is keeping the rat's foot as evidence in his freezer as evidence.
FOX 2 contacted the Olive Garden on Van Dyke but a manager said they could not comment on pending litigation.
An Olive Garden spokesperson issued this statement on Tuesday:
"We have no reason to believe there is any validity to this claim."