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Can I Sue for Food Poisoning?

Posted On 01/02/19

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a food safety alert concerning romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce grown in central and northern California was found to be contaminated with E. coli.

The affected crops contain a strain of E. coli that produces the Shiga toxin. The toxin can cause renal failure and a host of adverse symptoms. If you or a loved one recently suffered food poisoning or E. coli symptoms after eating contaminated romaine lettuce or other foods, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. To learn more about your unique case, speak with a qualified Phoenix personal injury lawyer.

The Recent E. Coli Outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified several growing regions in California responsible for the recent E. coli outbreak. Romaine lettuce grown in the following areas is unsafe to eat: Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Ventura. Anyone who has purchased a romaine lettuce product grown in these areas should dispose of it immediately to prevent E. coli exposure. If you cannot determine the origin of any romaine product, throw it away just to be safe.

  • E. coli can cause symptoms including severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. In healthy adults, these symptoms typically subside within a week. However, the current E. coli outbreak exposes victims to the Shiga toxin. This substance can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that may be fatal in some cases. Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems face the highest risk.

Who Is Liable for Food Poisoning?

Food growers, distributors, retailers, and restaurants have a duty to serve and sell uncontaminated food to consumers. If a person suffers food poisoning and incurs medical expenses for treatment, lost income from time spent in recovery, or other damages, he or she could have grounds for a lawsuit against any entity in the chain of distribution from grower to retailer or restaurant.

One of the most difficult aspects of any food poisoning claim is positively identifying the source. It usually takes several days for the symptoms of food poisoning to manifest. The prolonged time period can make it difficult to pinpoint the origin of the contamination. For example, a person may believe that he or she suffered food poisoning from a meal at a restaurant the previous night when in reality it was a contaminated sandwich he or she had for lunch earlier that day. Positively identifying the source of food poisoning is a crucial step toward recovery, and this usually hinges on discovering multiple reports about the same food source.

In regard to the recent E. coli outbreak, the FDA and CDC were able to positively identify the source. By collating data from multiple reports of E. coli contamination, they were able to pinpoint the cause. The results indicated that every person had consumed some type of romaine lettuce product from compromised growing regions.

Damages and Compensation

A plaintiff only has a valid claim if he or she suffered some harm or loss. Food poisoning may resolve on its own in a matter of days. During that time the symptoms can be excruciating. Plaintiffs in food poisoning lawsuits can secure compensation for their medical expenses, including hospital bills, ambulance fees, and any costs incurred for necessary ongoing treatment. They may also secure compensation for lost wages from time missed at work during recovery and any other damages caused by the contaminated food.

If you or a loved one recently suffered food poisoning and you are unsure of the origin, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can see if others in your area have suffered similar symptoms.