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Understanding Liability in Food Poisoning Claims

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2010 | Uncategorized |

In the wake of the massive egg recall that began earlier this month, the FDA has reported that more than a half-billion eggs have been recalled and destroyed which were linked to more than 1,000 cases of salmonella in the United States. Although officials have come out to state that this outbreak is under control, on what grounds are the farms liable for the damage caused by this ordeal? Let’s discuss three common legal arguments used when determining liability.

Strict Product Liability– Food Poisoning cases are sometimes classified as defective product liability claims. The idea is that the consumer has purchased and/or consumed a product that contained a defect that directly resulted in illness. An example of a defective product that has been highlighted in the news has been baby strollers. Due to either missing or improperly secured components, certain brands of strollers were recalled after parents reported that their children sustained injuries while using the malfunctioning strollers. Many states have enacted strict product liability laws.

In the case of the egg recall, the consumer does not have to prove that the producer of the product was negligent or not careful in the distribution of the eggs. All that is necessary is for the person to prove that the product they consumed was contaminated and their illness was a result of the contaminated product. As this outbreak began to unfold, the specific brands and item numbers of cartons were released. This information was invaluable as it gave the public an opportunity to easily identify which eggs were bad to prevent sickness as well as pinpoint the cause of illness among those already suffering from salmonella.

Negligence-When basing a claim on negligence, a consumer must prove that somehow the producer of the product did not exercise reasonable methods of safety when processing or preparing the product. Did the restaurant chef prepare your meal in an improperly sanitized kitchen area? Was a product not stored at the correct temperature resulting in a food borne illness that could have been avoided? These questions are really questions of negligence that must be asked in determining liability.

Product Guarantees-Many companies make claims about their products that support how safe it is for you-the consumer to use them. Some companies may state that their products are never in contact with infectious agents or that they follow a strict set of guidelines for processing a product to make it safe to consume. In situations where the company may have fallen short on their claims of safety, this may be a reason for a viable lawsuit.

Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit

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