Going out to a favorite restaurant is a way for many to spend quality time and socialize with their family and friends. When we go to a restaurant, we expect this to be a fun and relaxing time. What we do not expect though, is to become ill or injured from food poisoning from the restaurants we patronize.
According to a recent post by ABC News, 100 restaurant patrons recently suffered food poisoning. Because the law of the state where the injuries originated does not allow disclosing the source of the food or contamination, it is being labeled as the “food source.” Dozens of lawyers and law students became ill after dining in an establishment in the local area’s Chinatown. Some were bedridden and others had to seek medical attention. The owner of the restaurant has denied responsibility, claiming that maybe they could have all gotten a cold or drank too much. However, two weeks prior to this outbreak, a Health Department employee cited the establishment for multiple violations, such as lack of soap and paper towels in the employee restroom. This was also a repeat violation.
We should not have to worry about injury or illness from restaurants, because as paying customers, we are owed a legal duty of care as invitees in a commercial establishment. Under this legal duty, operators of the establishment must warn of any known dangers, regularly inspect the establishment for dangers, and remove any discovered dangers promptly. While the above article did not mention what the food was that caused food poisoning or the source of contamination, it is important to be aware of some common pathogenic causes of foodborne illness. Some of the most common causes include E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and norovirus. Oftentimes, victims of food poisoning can suffer nausea, cramping, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In some cases, this can lead to a need for medical attention or even hospitalization. Serious cases include symptoms of dehydration, muscle aches, and fatigue. Those at the highest risk for foodborne illness injuries include the elderly, infants, pregnant women, and those suffering from an illness that causes a weakened immune system. Any establishment that endangers its customers should be held responsible, and if you are a victim of this kind of negligence and suffer very serious injuries, you may be able to take legal action to hold wrongdoers accountable.
We encourage our readers to know their rights under the law. When patronizing a restaurant, you should expect that it is clean and free from contamination. Your food should always be prepared in a manner that should not make you ill, which includes steps from the restaurant such as clean food preparation areas, employees consistently washing their hands, food being cooked to the proper temperatures, and ingredients and areas within the restaurant regularly being inspected for hazards.