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Seattle Post Intelligencer, Feb 9, 2002


Man awarded $228,000 after chomping on ball bearing in nachos

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A jury has awarded more than $228,000 to a man who bit down on a steel ball bearing while eating nachos at a Taco Bell here five years ago.

John Marini, 46, of Battle Ground torqued the ligaments in the right side of his jaw on that day in 1997, and he has suffered jaw pain ever since, testimony indicated.

A 12-member Clark County Superior Court jury awarded Marini $25,610 for medical costs and $202,800 for pain and suffering.

"It was a horrific injury from a pretty small mistake," Marini's lawyer, David Gregerson, said after Wednesday's verdict.

Taco Bell, the Irvine, Calif.-based Mexican fast-food chain, never denied that the ball bearing was in the food. Apparently, it fell out of a sour cream gun, which had been incorrectly assembled.

Taco Bell's lawyer, Jon Ostrander of Portland, told jurors that Marini had suffered jaw problems before the incident because of nighttime teeth grinding.

But Samuel Higdon, a Portland mouth joint disease specialist, said odds are slim Marini that damaged his jaw ligaments simply by grinding his teeth.

"There are lots of people who clench their jaw and grind their teeth, and they don't have any jaw problems," Higdon said.

Of $5,600 he has had in doctors' bills so far, Marini has paid about $5,000 out of pocket, Gregerson said.

-- (, February 09, 2002


What a pussy. Mike Tyson would have eaten it up and spit it out.

-- (, February 09, 2002.

Eating at TB offers better odds than the Lotto. Could turn out to be quite a promo.

-- Carlos (, February 09, 2002.

One of the kids bit down on a penny hidden inside the creamy filling in an oreo-type generic brand cookie, at a church dinner in front of plenty of witnesses. No damage. We rinsed the kid's mouth out, washed the penny off, and let it go. Who knew?

-- helen (, February 09, 2002.

I'd rather swallow a ball bearing than a bear baring balls.

-- (, February 10, 2002.

Thanks, nemesis. I knew there was a moral to be derived from this story.

-- Peter Errington (, February 10, 2002.

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