Liability In Tainted Food Case

Date: February 10, 2010
Posted In: DLP Law

Bobby would go out for fast food during his lunch break from work. He would go to one of five or six different restaurants and utilized the drive-thru. Being a creature of habit, he did the same thing on February 10th.

Bobby ordered his usual and after about an hour, he started to get a stomach ache which grew increasingly more painful. By 3:30 in the afternoon, Bobby started to sweat profusely and was becoming dizzy. His employer thought it best to have one of the co-workers take Bobby to the local hospital.

Through various testing that was done, including a blood test, it was revealed that Bobby had ingested food that was tainted with E. coli. It would take Bobby weeks before he fully recovered due to other complications caused by the food poisoning.

What must Bobby prove in order to be able to successfully proceed against the restaurant where he was served? Bobby is going to have to prove that the food that he ingested at the restaurant was the cause of his food poisoning. He will have to eliminate other sources that might have been the reason he got so sick. This would include his own personal hygiene. Once it is determined that the restaurant was at fault, regardless of where the E. coli came from, whether it be from the condiments, bread, meat, cheese or any other substance that was in his meal, the restaurant retailer will be responsible. If the restaurant can show that it was one of the suppliers of the food product, they can then seek reimbursement from that supplier.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.