Oak Park Mall shopper ends up with toothpick embedded in her toe

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A Lenexa, Kan., woman says littered toothpicks outside Oak Park Mall pose a major safety risk for shoppers after she had one stuck more than inch deep into her big toe.

Len Haverfield was exiting the mall's food court Sept. 30 when she says she felt a sharp pain in her foot.

"I didn't even realize what happened until I made it outside, threw my bags down, threw myself down, took off my shoe and saw a toothpick stuck in my foot," Haverfield said.

A 3-inch toothpick that came from a sampling tray in the food court was left on the ground and had jammed into her big toe.  It went through her closed-toed shoe and stuck more than inch deep into her skin, Haverfield said.

Her kids called Mall Security, who had to call an ambulance. More than an hour later, two doctors with pliers finally removed the toothpick from Haverfield's toe.

It sounds like a freak accident, but Haverfield says the mall security guard told her this is far from uncommon.

"I asked him if you guys have ever seen anything like this before," Haverfield said.  "He said 'Oh yeah. It happens all the time.'"

Haverfield said the security guard said the entrance to the food court is routinely covered with toothpicks. 

Six weeks after Haverfield's incident, 41 Action News visited the mall and saw no changes. Dozens of toothpicks remained littered in the high-foot-traffic area.

Haverfield has been trying to contact the mall's parent company CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. because she feels the mall should be held liable for her injury.

"They were negligent," Haverfield said. "This has been an ongoing problem, obviously, and they didn't try and do anything to take care of it. It'd be different if it had been my toothpick, and I threw it on the ground, and I stepped on it."

Haverfield said she was ignored for six weeks and received her first communication from CBL Nov. 14.

41 Action News made several calls on multiple days to CBL, but none were returned.

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