Listeria is one of the most common pathogens that pose a threat to consumers in our food production system. Recently, two major food retailers have made headlines after listeria and other potential issues were identified in their food products. Dole Fresh Vegetables has been named in a lawsuit claiming that a package of the company’s salad contaminated with listeria caused an Ohio woman who consumed it to go into a coma.
Also, international coffee chain Starbucks has recalled two of its breakfast sandwich items after concerns arose that the items may be contaminated with listeria or other allergens that pose a threat to consumers. According to the complaint, at least 18 people in the United States and 11 residents in Canada suffered illnesses and four people died as a result of consuming the contaminated salad products.
Food producers, processors, and retailers have a duty to ensure that the food they offer is prepared and stored in a reasonably safe manner and free from any pathogens that could contaminate the item.
To recover compensation from a food producer, processor, or retailer, a plaintiff must prove a number of things. First, the defendant must have grown or shipped the food item, and the plaintiff must have consumed it. The plaintiff will be asked to provide evidence of the symptoms that he or she suffered as a result of the contamination. This can include medical records or testimony from any treating physicians. It will be important to establish that the illness manifested in close proximity to when the plaintiff consumed the allegedly contaminated item.
Finally, the plaintiff will need to show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the item from becoming contaminated. There are a number of federal, state, and local regulations that govern food safety. If the plaintiff can show that the defendant violated a statute at the time of the contamination, the plaintiff will be entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the defendant acted negligently.
A variety of damages may be available in claims arising from food contamination, depending on the nature and extent of the harm that the injured consumer suffered. Medical expenses for treating the resulting illness may be substantial, as well as income that the victim lost after missing time at work. Also, more non-economic or subjective types of damages may be available in many cases, such as pain and suffering. In some instances, when a manufacturer acts in a particularly egregious or reckless manner, punitive damages may be sought in addition to compensatory damages.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of a contaminated food product, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our diligent and experienced team of personal injury lawyers understands what it takes to bring a claim against a major food retailer and to gather the evidence necessary to prove your case. We proudly represent clients throughout the United States, including in Illinois, Texas, California, and New York. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation today.