Police Officer Sues, Cook Puts Pubic Hair in his Bagel as Revenge
Patrolman Jeremy Merck from the Evesham Police Department in New Jersey ordered an egg, cheese and turkey bagel from the Good Foods to Go in Marlton, New Jersey in February last year.
But after a few mouthfuls, he was disgusted to discover it contained pubic and chest hair.
Merck, who is now seeking unspecified damages from the deli and its cook, immediately went to hospital to be checked for diseases – but none was found.
Ryan Burke, who served the bagel, later admitted to tearing hairs from his chest and pubic area and putting them into the snack in retaliation for a traffic arrest by the officer.
In 2009, Merck charged Burke with traffic offences and Burke, from Stratford, New Jersey later complained the traffic case cost him $4,400.
Following the deli incident, the New Jersey State Police lab found the hairs contained Burke’s DNA.
The 27-year-old cook was charged with aggravated assault, retaliation against a public servant and food tampering. He received two years probation, fines, and 15 days in jail to be served on weekends.
He was also fired from Good Foods immediately after his arrest.
A police report from the criminal case said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Lawsuit: Patrolman Jeremy Merck is suing Good Food to Go for an unspecified amount for failing to properly examine the bagel he was served (file picture)
Now Merck, 30, is seeking unspecified damages from the deli and its former employee.
The lawsuit alleges Good Foods to Go was negligent for failing to keep its premises safe and for failing to properly examine the sandwich he was served.
It also claims the deli failed to properly hire, train, and supervise its employees.
Attorney Bruce Zamost, who is representing Merck, said customers are protected by a state law that makes restaurants liable for serving contaminated food.
He said: ‘If someone is served contaminated food, then they are entitled to a civil remedy against the restaurant.
‘It doesn’t matter whether the restaurant was clean or not clean. It doesn’t matter whether the restaurant was negligent in performing its duties.’
He added: ‘Public servants like firefighters and police officers can’t operate under a fear of retaliation from citizens. That Burke was prosecuted under the criminal system does not negate the need for a civil remedy here.’
Zamost said that Merck often is reminded of the incident by his fellow officers.
He said: ‘Police officers have a lot of camaraderie. Whenever you’re around a sandwich, you’re that guy. When I spoke to Merck, my heart went out to him.’
But lawyers for Good Foods to Go claim the deli was not responsible for Burke’s actions.
Attorney Mark R. Sander said: ‘Ryan Burke was a 27-year-old man who acted outside the scope of his employment.’
He added that Merck has continued to eat at the deli despite the incident.
Zamost said no trial date has been set for the civil case but it would likely begin next year.