One Woman Is Claiming A Taco Bell Meal Paralyzed Her. Here's Why

Wanda and Sherrel Shadix have filed a complaint in Georgia's state court against Taco Bell, Yum! Brands, which owns the chain, and five other anonymous parties. The crux of the lawsuit, as Eat This, Not That! reports, is that the Shadixes believe the companies are responsible for Wanda's Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder that causes the body to damage its own nerves that developed shortly after she and Sherrel contracted food poisoning from their local Taco Bell. 

On June 10, 2020, Wanda and Sherrel Shadix ordered a Nacho Bell Grande and a Burrito Supreme with a Baja Blast Mountain Dew from Taco Bell. The meat of the nachos felt dry to Wanda and appeared different from the meat regularly used for the dish, so she didn't finish it. Both experienced symptoms of food poisoning that night. However, within a week Wanda began having difficulties with her hands. "Plaintiff Wanda Shadix is now a quadriplegic," the complaint states. "Through treatment, Wanda has made some improvements and can now breathe and speak on her own as well as perform minor movements with her hands. However, at this time, it is unknown to what extent her paralysis will be permanent." Taco Bell and company now face seven charges of liability.

How likely is it that Taco Bell's at fault?

While Taco Bell does enjoy a reputation for dodgy food, thanks to a salmonella outbreak in 2011 detailed by the law firm Schmidt and Clark, some may hesitate to assume that they could render customers quadriplegic. However, it is completely possible that Taco Bell's food did spur Wanda Shadix's disorder.

According to the CDC, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune disorder that causes one's immune system to damage one's nerves, leaving their muscles weakened or paralyzed for weeks to months or even years. The GBS Foundation goes further, explaining that the disorder attacks the myelin around your neuron's axon. This causes information to travel slower or not at all. Since the longest neural pathway is to your feet, most GBS sufferers notice the issue most acutely in their legs. It appears Wanda Shadix has suffered from a particularly severe case of GBS.

More importantly, however, the GBS Foundation admits that while we do not yet know why people develop GBS, 60-80% percent of people who suffer from it had either the flu or food poisoning directly before. Somehow the immune system responds and simply does not shut down once the infection is beaten. Before you panic, however, Life Hacker writes that one in 100,000 people each year develop GBS, and most of those cases do not linger to the degree that Wanda Shadix's has.