Food Poisoning Cases as Product Liability

Most people do not think that food poisoning is a problem to warrant a personal injury court case. At the same time most people are aware that every so often this country faces a major food recall or has some sort of salmonella outbreak that can result in death of some of the unfortunate first vulnerable victims. In a 1999 paper the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that food borne illnesses accounted for a mind boggling 76 million infections, 325,000 hospitalizations (unknown if that includes both admissions and just emergency room visits or just admissions or just emergency room visits) as well as 5,000 deaths each year. Since that time, the incidence of food poisoning has improved insofar as the overall number of salmonella outbreaks have decreased, the total number of infections changed little due to an increase in other bacterial infections. The CDC estimated that 2013 saw 19,000 food borne related infections, 4,200 hospitalizations and 80 deaths. As such, the now more common infections are much less virulent and deadly, but still dangerous. While food borne illnesses are the most common version of personal injury actions as a result of tainted food, there is also the possibility that there are foreign objects in certain food items or even possibly being burned from overcooked food.


Legally speaking, food poisoning cases are a subspecies of a product liability action. In all products liability action, the producer or vendor (or both) of the product have a duty to insure that they make and sell only products that are safe under normal or typical conditions. While there are some products that cannot be made safer or their utility will decrease, such as a blow torch or simple kitchen knives, no such issue exists with respect to selling food as a product.  More specifically, New York Courts treat food poisoning cases as a breach of the implied warranty; there is an implied warranty that all food sold is indeed fit for human consumption.  Liability is established by showing that the defendant introduced an adulterated product into the stream of commerce and that you were harmed as a result of eating the adulterated product.  Damages are established by showing past medical bills and other incident costs in addition to outlining past pain and suffering and reasonably estimating anticipated future medical and other incidental costs as well as future pain and suffering.


If you happen to have suffered from food poisoning it is important that after you attend to any immediate medical needs that you freeze your food. In addition, if you find out if someone was stricken by the same illness or even just the same symptoms after eating the same food or perhaps food from the same establishment, it is important that you obtain contact information for that person.


If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of food poisoning, you must speak with an experienced personal injury attorney that has the ability to stand up to the insurance companies and level the playing field for you. The attorneys of the law firm of Napoli, Shkolnik, PLLC not only have the ability to fight for you but they also have the compassion and understanding to make sure you are treated as an individual throughout the entire process. You can reach us at 212-397-1000 or fill out our online contact information form so someone can contact you.