Man Sues McDonald’s After Near-Death Allergic Reaction

Imagine sitting down at your favorite fast food restaurant, eagerly anticipating your delicious meal, only to discover that it contains an ingredient that could potentially kill you. This was the terrifying experience that New York resident Charles Olsen went through when he ordered a Big Mac meal with no cheese from McDonald’s. Despite specifying his severe dairy allergy, the burger he received had a slice of American cheese on it, unleashing a chain of events that left him fighting for his life. Now, Olsen is taking legal action against McDonald’s, seeking damages for his near-death allergic reaction. This shocking incident serves as a poignant reminder of the importance for restaurants to take food allergies seriously and honor customers’ requests to ensure their safety. So, the next time you find yourself at a restaurant, be sure to double- and triple-check your food before taking that first bite, because your life could depend on it.

The Incident Context

The Plaintiff: Charles Olsen

Charles Olsen, a resident of New York, found himself in a life-threatening situation due to his severe dairy allergy. Olsen is now seeking damages from the fast-food giant McDonald’s after a near-death experience caused by a Big Mac.

Severe Dairy Allergies

Olsen’s case is particularly alarming due to the severity of his dairy allergy. This allergy posed a significant threat to his life and required immediate medical intervention. Dairy allergies can cause severe allergic reactions in individuals, making it essential for restaurants to handle orders with utmost care and attention.

Night of the Incident

The incident occurred one night in February 2021 when Olsen ordered a Big Mac meal with no cheese and a Sprite from McDonald’s. Unfortunately, the burger he received had a slice of American cheese on it, which he realized immediately. This mistake had immediate and severe consequences for Olsen’s health, leading to an allergic reaction that put his life in jeopardy.

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The Big Mac Mistake

Ordering a Big Mac

Olsen’s choice to order a Big Mac, a popular menu item at McDonald’s, seemed harmless. However, due to his severe dairy allergy, it became a dangerous decision. He followed the necessary steps to customize his order and made it clear that he wanted no cheese on his burger.

Finding Cheese on the Burger

Upon receiving his order, Olsen discovered that his Big Mac had a slice of American cheese on it, contradicting his explicit request for the burger to be cheese-free. This seemingly small oversight had significant implications for his health and well-being.

Initial Allergic Reaction

As soon as Olsen took a few bites of the burger, he sensed that something wasn’t right. His throat began to itch and swell, and he experienced a burning sensation throughout his body. Realizing that there was milk in his meal, he alerted his girlfriend, Alexandra, to the situation. Shortly after, Olsen’s body became covered in hives, his breathing became heavy and congested, and he developed a persistent cough and wheezing. It was clear that he needed immediate medical assistance to combat the severe allergic reaction he was experiencing.

Olsen’s Desperate Struggle

Body Covered in Hives

The allergic reaction caused by the dairy in the Big Mac took a toll on Olsen’s body. He found himself covered in hives, experiencing intense itching and discomfort. The visible and physical symptoms intensified the urgency of his need for medical attention.

Breathing Issues and Fever

Olsen’s allergic reaction also affected his respiratory system. He began to have difficulty breathing, with his breath becoming heavy and congested. Additionally, he developed a fever, further indicating the severity of his allergic response.

Desperate Cry for Help

In his distressed state, Olsen communicated to Alexandra that he required immediate medical assistance. He gasped for air and choked out his words, emphasizing the urgency of the situation. It was clear that his life was in danger, and immediate action was necessary to save him.

A Race to the Hospital

Rushed to the Hospital

With Olsen’s life hanging in the balance, Alexandra rushed him to the hospital as quickly as possible. Every second mattered, and they faced a race against time to get him the medical help he desperately needed.

Olsen’s Detrimental State

During the journey to the hospital, Olsen’s condition continued to deteriorate. He became hypoxic and was on the brink of needing intubation to ensure his survival. The severity of his allergic reaction put his life in immediate jeopardy, making the prompt arrival at the hospital crucial.

On the Brink of Intubation

Medical professionals at the hospital recognized the grave nature of Olsen’s situation. They prepared for the possibility of intubation, a medical procedure in which a tube is inserted into the airway to aid breathing. Olsen’s throat was continuing to swell and close, heightening the pressing need for life-saving intervention.

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Life-Saving Medical Intervention

Olsen’s Closing Throat

Olsen’s rapidly closing throat posed an imminent danger to his life. The severity of his allergic reaction affected his ability to breathe, increasing the urgency for medical professionals to act swiftly and decisively.

Swift Medical Response

The medical team at the hospital acted promptly to administer life-saving treatment to Olsen. The timely response and immediate administration of medication were crucial in stabilizing his condition and preventing further deterioration.

Prevention of Ventilation

Thanks to the swift medical intervention, Olsen’s condition began to show signs of improvement. His breathing started to normalize just as medical professionals were preparing to connect him to a ventilator. This critical response prevented the need for ventilation, which could have been a much more invasive and intensive intervention.

Avoidable Tragedy

Jory Lange and His Position

Jory Lange, Olsen’s attorney, highlights the avoidable nature of the incident. Lange emphasizes the importance of restaurants respecting customers’ dietary restraints, particularly when it comes to common food allergens such as milk or cheese. He stresses that accommodating customers’ requests is vital, as severe allergies can lead to anaphylaxis and life-threatening emergencies.

The Importance of Respecting Customer’s Dietary Restraints

Restaurants have a responsibility to take customers’ dietary restrictions seriously. This includes adhering to specific instructions provided by customers regarding allergens or other dietary concerns. By doing so, they can avoid potentially dangerous situations like the one experienced by Olsen.

The Rising Number of Allergenic Individuals

The incident involving Olsen serves as a reminder that the number of individuals with severe food allergies is on the rise. It is crucial for restaurants to recognize this trend and adapt their practices accordingly to ensure the safety and well-being of their customers.

Responsibility of Restaurants

The Role of Restaurants in Dietary Safety

Restaurants play a significant role in ensuring dietary safety for their customers. They must prioritize proper food handling and preparation practices to avoid cross-contamination and allergen exposure. By following strict protocols and being diligent in their processes, restaurants can mitigate the risk of adverse events related to food allergies.

Most Common Food Allergens

Understanding the most common food allergens is essential for restaurants. The nine most common food allergens, as identified by medical professionals, include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and sesame. By being knowledgeable about these allergens, restaurants can better meet the needs of their customers and prevent allergic reactions.

The Potential Consequences of Oversights

Failure to prioritize dietary safety can have severe consequences for individuals with allergies. Accidental exposure to allergens can result in allergic reactions ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening situations. Restaurants must recognize the impact of their actions, as even seemingly minor oversights can lead to significant harm.

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Filing the Lawsuit

Decision to Sue McDonald’s

Olsen’s decision to file a lawsuit against McDonald’s stems from the alarming incident he experienced and the potential long-term consequences of the restaurant’s oversight. Seeking legal action is not only a means of seeking justice but also an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of respecting dietary restrictions.

Details Laid Out in the Lawsuit

The lawsuit filed by Olsen against McDonald’s provides a detailed account of the incident and the resulting consequences. It outlines the circumstances leading up to the allergic reaction, emphasizing the failure on McDonald’s part to fulfill Olsen’s specific request for a cheese-free Big Mac.

Targeted Compensation to be Claimed

As part of the lawsuit, Olsen will seek compensation for the damages incurred. This includes medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any long-term consequences resulting from the incident. The lawsuit intends to hold McDonald’s accountable for their role in the near-death experience Olsen endured.

Lessons from the Incident

Importance of Double Checking Food

Olsen’s case serves as a reminder of the vital importance of double-checking food before consuming it, especially for individuals with allergies. It is essential to verify that the order is prepared correctly and aligns with any dietary restrictions or preferences provided to the restaurant.

Feeding with Allergies in Mind

Individuals with allergies must be vigilant when it comes to their food choices. It is crucial to communicate allergies clearly and precisely to restaurant staff and to thoroughly inspect orders before consuming them. Taking these precautions can help prevent potential allergic reactions.

Precautions for Allergic Individuals

Allergenic individuals should take appropriate measures to protect themselves from potential allergen exposure. This includes educating themselves about common allergens, carrying necessary medications such as epinephrine auto-injectors, and being proactive in communicating their allergies to restaurant staff and others involved in food preparation.

A Call to Action for Restaurants

Ensuring Accurate Preparation of Food

Restaurants must prioritize accurate food preparation to avoid potential allergic reactions in their customers. This involves establishing comprehensive training programs for staff, implementing strict protocols for handling allergens, and regularly auditing and monitoring their practices to maintain a high standard of food safety.

Providing Adequate Allergy Information

Restaurants should strive to provide clear and accessible information regarding allergens present in their menu items. This can include comprehensive ingredient lists, allergen identification labels, and staff training to answer customer inquiries about potential allergen exposure.

Importance of Training in Food Safety

Proper training in food safety is paramount for restaurants. Staff should receive thorough education about allergens, cross-contamination prevention, and the importance of following customer requests regarding dietary restrictions. Regular training updates and refresher courses can help ensure that food safety protocols remain at the forefront of restaurant operations.

In conclusion, Charles Olsen’s near-death experience after consuming a Big Mac underscores the need for restaurants to prioritize customer safety and respect dietary restrictions. The incident highlights the potential consequences of even minor oversights in food preparation and the importance of accurate communication between customers and restaurant staff. By implementing strict protocols, offering adequate allergy information, and emphasizing food safety training, restaurants can help prevent similar incidents and ensure a safe dining experience for all customers.


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