Suing a Food Company

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 What Are Some Reasons for Suing a Food Company?

In general, there are a select number of reasons as to why a consumer may want to sue a food company. For instance, you may want to file a food contamination lawsuit against a food company if you found some type of physical object in a food product that it does not normally contain like a used band-aid. Food contamination lawsuits can be used to cover a broad range of items that should not appear in your food products.

Alternatively, individuals who have fallen ill because of contaminated food products or food poisoning can also bring a food negligence lawsuit against a food company. This is because food safety regulations in the United States are enforced and implemented by various federal and state government agencies.

Thus, food negligence cases can arise when a food company breaches their duty to consumers to ensure that the food products they purchase conform with both federal and state food safety laws.

For example, if a food company is aware that a specific food product they sell is making a lot of consumers sick and it fails to recall the product, then any consumers injured by that food product may bring a lawsuit against the food company for its negligence.

Some different causes of action that may serve as the basis of a food negligence or food contamination lawsuit include the following:

  • A food poisoning claim;
  • A claim for foodborne illness;
  • A defective products liability claim;
  • A claim for strict liability;
  • Breach of implied warranty claims;
  • Loss of consortium; and
  • Defective, fraudulent, or improper food warnings and/or labels.

In most instances of food poisoning or food contamination sold by food companies, however, a subsequent lawsuit will most likely be filed based on a claim for products liability. Specifically, lawsuits against food companies typically involve a claim for strict liability. This means that the food company can be held strictly liable for any harm caused to consumers, regardless of whether the food company was negligent or not.

In such cases, the plaintiff (e.g., a consumer) will usually have to prove the following four elements:

  • That the food company sold and/or distributed a contaminated or defective food product;
  • That the food product was already defective or contaminated when it was released by the food company;
  • That the plaintiff consumed or used the food product in a manner that was foreseeable to the food company; and
  • That the plaintiff suffered a food-related illness or other harm as a result of consuming or using the contaminated or defective food product.

So, for example, if you purchased a specific food item from a food company and you can prove that the food was contaminated due to the food company’s failure to abide by food safety and sanitation laws and you fall ill, then you may be able to recover monetary damages based on a claim for strict liability.

In addition, other businesses that are part of the food company’s chain of distribution may be held liable for any harm you suffered as well. For instance, you may be able to hold both a distributor and manufacturer liable for selling a defective or contaminated food product.

Finally, if you believe that you purchased a food product that caused you to receive food poisoning and need assistance with filing a lawsuit against a food company, you should contact a local personal injury lawyer immediately for further legal guidance.

What Are Some Pointers for Suing a Food Company?

An individual who falls ill due to food poisoning or contaminated food that they purchased from a food company, should make sure that they document the incident by collecting evidence, such as:

  • The receipt that proves they purchased the food item in question;
  • A written account of all the symptoms they experienced from the food poisoning or contamination, as well as the events before, during, and after the incident;
  • Photos or videos of the food item at issue;
  • Any packaging or labels associated with the contaminated food product;
  • A list of witnesses or other persons who suffered the same food-related injuries;
  • Any documents that prove the individual had to seek medical treatment (e.g., medical records, hospital bills, pharmacy receipts, lost wages, etc.);
  • A statement or news article that shows the product has been recalled (if applicable); and
  • Various other documentation that proves the individual got sick from the food company’s product and/or that demonstrates that the food company has a long history of engaging in unsafe food practices.

The individual should also keep copies of emails, letters, and other correspondence they sent to the food company. These include a formal complaint letter, as well as any complaint documents that they filed with different agencies like the Better Business Bureau or a state or local health department.

What Types of Legal Remedies Are Available?

The types of legal remedies that may be available to a prevailing plaintiff will depend on the laws of their particular state as well as the facts of their individual case. Some common examples of legal remedies that a plaintiff may be able to recover in such cases can include:

  • Economic damages (e.g., lost wages, hospital bills, other medical expenses, etc.);
  • Non-economic damages like those for pain and suffering, emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life;
  • A punitive damages award;
  • An injunction; and/or
  • A court-order that instructs the food company to change their food safety practices or policies.

Some of these legal remedies will be different from the ones that an individual might potentially receive if they sue a restaurant instead. One reason for this is because unlike food companies, restaurants cannot be held liable for injuries caused by third parties. Another reason is due to the fact that restaurants cannot be held responsible for injuries caused by unforeseeable events.

Additionally, restaurants are typically sued based on a negligence standard, whereas food companies are vulnerable to claims involving strict liability. Thus, it may be easier for a plaintiff to recover damages or at least not have their damages reduced under the standard of strict liability.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Suing a Food Company?

It can be very difficult to prevail in a lawsuit against a food company that is based on a claim for food poisoning or food contamination. Moreover, the chances of winning such a lawsuit will be contingent on the facts of your case. Thus, if you wish to recover damages from a food company due to an incident involving contamination or food poisoning, then it is strongly recommended that you consult a local personal injury lawyer for further advice.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assess the facts of your case and can determine whether you have a viable claim against the food company who sold you the product. If your lawyer believes you have a case, then they can assist you in preparing the necessary legal documents and filing them in the appropriate court. Additionally, your lawyer can also assist you in gathering evidence, building a solid argument, and pursuing damages.

Finally, your lawyer will also be able to negotiate on your behalf during a settlement conference, or alternatively, can provide legal representation in court if you and the opposing party agree to take the case to trial.


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