Food Poisoning Litigation

Food Poisoning Litigation

The attorneys of Todd & Weld LLP have represented plaintiffs in numerous personal injury cases, including matters related to food poisoning.   Our attorneys are known for their unsurpassed preparation and relentless dedication to our clients, and they bring this level of expertise to every case when representing clients whose injuries result from food poisoning.  We have obtained substantial results for clients in food poisoning cases, including a $1.13 million settlement on behalf of a woman who, after eating salmon at a restaurant, contracted E. coli and as a result suffered renal failure after developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, but fortunately recovered and returned to work one month later.

Unfortunately, individuals are constantly at risk for suffering from food poisoning.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one in six Americans (48 million individuals) get sick each year from eating contaminated food.  Contamination can occur at any point along the food production chain – production, processing, distribution, and preparation. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, which usually resolve within a few days.  Some food poisoning cases, however, can lead to serious, even life threatening, complications, such as kidney failure, brain and nerve damage, and chronic arthritis.

Food producers, distributors, and providers have a legal duty to supply food that is fit and safe to consume.  Massachusetts law protects individuals who become sick due to food poisoning, including compensation for their injuries.  A restaurant or food supplier is strictly liable for food poisoning, which means that a restaurant or supplier of tainted food is responsible to those affected by the food, regardless of whether the restaurant or supplier knew it was tainted, and regardless of the measures they took to ensure food safety.

Food Poisoning: Know Your Legal Rights

Sources of food contamination

The types of bacteria and viruses that contaminate food are varied, according to the CDC, and include norovirus, Salmonella, Campylobacteriosis, Listeria, and E. coliNorovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans.  The virus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact, and contamination of surfaces.  A Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste.  General lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headache, and low-grade fever may occur.

The disease is usually self-limiting, and severe illness is rare.  According to the CDC, each year in the U.S. norovirus causes 19 to 21 million cases of inflammation of the stomach or intestines, and leads to 400,000 emergency room visits.

E. coli is a more dangerous form of food-borne illness.  Some strains of E. coli produce toxins or other materials that can cause serious disease. Many of the pathogenic (disease-causing) strains of E. coli produce Shiga toxins, and are referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STECs.  There are two kinds of Shiga toxin, called Shiga toxin 1, or Stx1, and Shiga toxin 2, or Stx2.  These toxins invade cells, particularly of small blood vessels, and prevent the cellular DNA from making proteins, thus killing the cells.

As STEC bacteria enter the bloodstream of the body, they attack small blood vessels in other parts of the body.  The most commonly affected organs are the kidneys, nervous system, and lungs.  In the kidneys, Shiga toxins attack the small blood vessels of the glomeruli, which are the key filtering structures of these organs.  Destruction of these blood vessels can lead to kidney failure and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which generally require kidney dialysis.  It can also lead to death or necessitate a kidney transplant to prevent death.

Your legal rights

First and foremost, it is important that you seek medical help if you are suffering significant symptoms of food poisoning.  If you think you or someone you know is suffering from a food-borne illness, it is also important to report your condition to your local health department to help the government track this vital information. 

Individuals harmed by food-borne illnesses can seek legal damages for their injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  Proving liability requires evidence of the source or sources of contaminated food, and that eating the contaminated food is what made you sick.  Tracking the source of contamination is easier when many other people suffer food poisoning from eating the same contaminated food.

Our attorneys are devoted and determined advocates on behalf of their clients.  We are committed to obtaining the best results for the individuals and families in order to help ease the physical, emotional, and financial burdens our clients bear.  As a litigation firm, we are able to bring our wider knowledge to the complex issues that can be involved in a food poisoning case, such as tracking down the source of contaminated food.

Our attorneys are diligent in determining responsible parties for our clients' injuries and, should the case proceed to trial, we use cutting-edge courtroom presentation tools that allow us to tell your story effectively and with compassion.  Our lawyers are sensitive to your concerns and spend the time needed to answer your questions and keep you informed as the case moves forward.