updated 12/12/2007 12:02:24 PM ET 2007-12-12T17:02:24

The owner of a Burger King franchise says there's no merit to a man's claim that he bit into an unwrapped condom while eating a sandwich he bought there.

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Franchise owner Carrols Corp. of Syracuse, N.Y., said it "is confident that no Carrols employee placed any foreign object" on Van Miguel Hartless' food, the company said in a statement released Tuesday.

Hartless, 24, of Fair Haven, claims in a lawsuit that he bought a Southwestern Whopper at the restaurant in Rutland on June 18 and made the discovery when he got home and started eating it. The suit, filed last month, seeks damages for pain and suffering, emotional duress and medical expenses.

The company said it plans to file a formal response to the lawsuit soon.

"We were certain in June that there was no validity to the claim," said Joseph Zirkman, vice president and general counsel of Carrols Corp. "We're doing what we can to investigate and make sure the truth comes out."

Burger King Corp. released a statement backing Carrols.

"We have a long-term relationship with this franchisee and have faith in the investigation they performed in June," the statement reads.

Alfred Burns, a sanitarian supervisor for Vermont's Department of Health, said state investigators "found nothing wrong in the restaurant at that time as far as tampering and contamination are concerned," he said.

But he said investigators couldn't rule out the possibility that someone had placed a condom in the sandwich.

Hartless, a student at Green Mountain College in Poultney, said he kept the sandwich and the condom as evidence.

"It was never my intention to file a lawsuit in the first place," he said. "I just wanted the assurance that they would pay my medical bills if something happened to me."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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