Contaminated Food: A Case for Liability

The news headlines have been clogged up recently with stories about contaminated food in the northwestern parts of the U.S. It is being reported that a popular burrito store has served food at its restaurants contaminated with e-coli and caused a number of people to become ill.

According to reports, there are at least 37 people who became sick after eating at the popular restaurant. The illnesses spread across stores in two states - Washington and Oregon. To their credit, the restaurant chain has taken the lead in the situation by addressing the issue, temporarily closing stores and investigating what happened.

One of the big challenges in this case is that the contamination could be in any number of ingredients that go into a burrito. It could be in the lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, or onions. Testing is underway and results should be reported soon. As of right now it is not known whether any of the affected customers have brought any lawsuits.

History of Food-Related Cases in Florida

Florida has a history of cases involving contaminated food in one way or another. Typically, these kinds of cases are plead under theories of product liability, and in addition to those theories, Florida courts recognize a claim for breach of implied warranty when a food manufacturer or packer sends adulterated food to a consumer.

The first time a Florida court applied a breach of implied warranty of claim to a case was in 1944 in Blanton v. Cudahy Packing Co., 154 Fla. 872, 19 So.2d 313 (1944). Since then the courts have applied the same availability to people bringing claims against restaurants and companies that sell food products. In each of those cases the court found that the party providing food to the consumer was liable for the harm they inflicted.

To plead a successful claim, a claimant must establish several things. In the first case they have to show that they actually ate the food, that it was adulterated in some way, and that it caused damages (or harm) to the person. By proving those elements a claimant can recover for the damages inflicted such as:

  • Hospital bills;

  • Pain and suffering;

  • Time lost at work; and,

  • Mental anguish and stress.

Of course, this is not the entire list of what a claimant could plead, but it is an example of a typical case. As consumers who go out every day to buy food from stores, suppliers, and restaurants, we deserve to know that our food is safe and unadulterated. When that does not happen people can become ill, suffer emotional damage, and otherwise suffer because of something that should be prevented. In such cases the guilty parties should be made to pay for the damage they cause.

Panama City Accident and Injury Attorney

At The Pittman Firm our team of dedicated professionals works tirelessly to recover fair and just compensation for victims of negligence, defective products, and other theories of recovery. If you have been injured due to the careless actions of another, contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you and providing you with your legal options.


See related blog posts: U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Personal Injury Case; Economic Loss Rule and Product Liability Cases.
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