In 2015, Chipotle made national headlines when a number of its restaurants were linked to an outbreak of E. coli and norovirus food poisoning incidents. The company shut down 43 of its restaurants and hundreds of people were sickened in several states.

Negligent food poisoning cases typically fall under the category of defective product liability claims. They require special proof in order to show liability on the part of a defendant. Generally, a plaintiff must prove at least that:

  • He/she suffered an illness
  • An organism that caused the illness existed
  • There is a connection between the organism and the actual illness
  • The defendant was responsible for the illness

Common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, chills, and diarrhea. However, proving that one became sick simply after eating food is not nearly enough. There are other diseases (e.g., influenza) that have similar symptoms to food poisoning. Thus, additional facts must be proven to hold a defendant liable. If others were also made sick by the same food, it can make it easier for you to prove your claim.

Plaintiffs will need to demonstrate a probability that the food poisoning was caused by some conduct of the defendant, rather than mere coincidence. For example, it is usually not enough to establish timing and the possibility of food poisoning. In many cases, the specific organism that caused the illness must be found even though various circumstances may make it difficult, if not impossible, to find sufficient medical proof.

However, some courts do accept circumstantial evidence to at least prove a reasonable inference of food poisoning and may allow recovery if all other rational explanations can be eliminated.

In food poisoning cases, it is also necessary to identify any and all parties that may be responsible. The food chain of distribution can include the food processing facility, the retailer, and any other suppliers, distributors or wholesalers in between. This is why you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your potential food poisoning claim.

The attorneys of Roberts & Roberts have the skill, experience and resources to fully investigate any serious accident or death. If you have a question about an accident involving a serious injury or fatality, please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.

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