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Disease and Diners: Filing a Lawsuit Related to Foodborne Illness

Outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have been increasingly prevalent in the past few years.  Typically, illnesses caused by food consumption are especially startling because we often take the quality of the food we are eating for granted.  Unfortunately, illness outbreaks from food are not infrequent.  Recently, Food Safety News compiled a list of the top ten outbreaks from the year 2015.  Those include:


  1. The E. coli O26 outbreak from Chipotle (52 sick)
  2. The frozen raw tuna salmonella infections (65 sick)
  3. The salmonella outbreak from Supermercado Los Corrales (70 sick)
  4. The staphylococcus aureus outbreak from Sunnyside Child Care Center (86 sick)
  5. The Kapowsin Meat salmonella outbreak (192 sick)
  6. The Mariscos shigella outbreak (194 sick)
  7. The North Carolina BBQ salmonella outbreak (280 sick)
  8. The Boise Co-op salmonella outbreak (290 sick)
  9. The Mexican cilantro cyclospora outbreak (546 sick)
  10. The salmonella cucumber outbreak (838 sick)


Although these incidents are significant, this list excludes any of the recent norovirus outbreaks that have also made headlines.  The Las Vegas Sun reported Chipotle was aiming to have “as close to perfect food safety as possible.”  This came after the October and November E. coli outbreaks that Chipotle experienced at its restaurants.  To ensure higher food safety, Chipotle is instituting more testing along the supply chain, as well as high tech food tracking inside the restaurants themselves.  Shortly after these announcements, Chipotle closed another one of its restaurants outside of Boston College when multiple customers succumbed to gastrointestinal illness.  The incident left 136 patrons sick.  Later, according to the Las Vegas Sun, the restaurant was reopened weeks later.  Chipotle says the outbreak was not related to the previous E. coli cases, but was in fact caused by a sick employee.


The Ramifications of Foodborne Illness

Despite the numerous safety procedures put into place by restaurants and grocers, there is still some likelihood you could contract some foodborne illness.  Illness can be as benign as mild discomfort, or as severe as death.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) victims often suffer from diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting. However, 5-10% of the people with STEC infections can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which may result in serious kidney problems. HUS can even lead to death.  Many of the more severe cases result in legal action.


Federal lawsuits have been filed in connection to the recent Chipotle E. coli outbreaks.  According to the New York Daily News, men and women in Washington and Oregon filed federal claims against the Mexican restaurant chain. One individual missed nearly two weeks of work after contracting E. coli and is seeking to recover damages.  Another individual changed plans to take a vacation and missed work.


What to do if you Contract a Foodborne Illness?

If you or a loved one contract a foodborne illness you should seek immediate medical attention.  Ignoring the signs of food related bacterial infections can lead to permanent damage.  You may be able to recover from the negligence of restaurants or food companies if you are injured as a result of a foodborne illness outbreak. You might recover damages ranging from medical expenses to lost wages. The only way to know what your options are is to consult a licensed Nevada personal injury attorney.

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