PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A police officer is suing a New Jersey delicatessen and its cook, who admitted stuffing body hair into the officer’s bagel sandwich in revenge for a traffic arrest.
The lawsuit filed by Patrolman Jeremy Merck of the Evesham, New Jersey, Police Department seeks unspecified damages from Good Foods to Go in Marlton, New Jersey, and its cook, Ryan Burke, for an incident that occurred in February 2010.
Merck ordered an egg, cheese and turkey bagel and after eating part of it, he found it “was adulterated with pubic, chest or other human hair,” the lawsuit said.
Merck sought medical help and was checked for communicable diseases at a hospital, his attorney, Bruce Zamost, said on Friday. None was detected.
Burke, who served Merck the sandwich, was later charged with aggravated assault, retaliation against a public servant and food tampering. He ultimately served 15 days in jail.
According to a police report from the criminal case, “Burke admitted to tearing out hairs from his chest and his pubic area and placing them on Ptl. Merck’s sandwich out of anger due to the fines and lawyers fees he had from the prior arrest in 2009.”
In 2009, Merck charged Burke with traffic offenses. Burke later complained the traffic case cost him $4,400.
“Burke admitted that he did not like Ptl. Merck as a result of that incident and expressed that he shouldn’t have to see Ptl. Merck at Good Foods to Go,” the police report continued.
A woman who answered the phone at the headquarters of the restaurant chain declined to comment on reports Burke was fired after the sandwich incident. The restaurant’s lawyer, Mark Sander, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Zamost said no trial date has been set for the civil case but it would likely begin next year.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)