Yes, you can sue for botulism if your illness can be linked to a food product that is contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.
Botulism is a severe form of food poisoning caused by the ingestion of foods containing a potent neurotoxin (nerve toxin) that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. A very small amount (a few nanograms) of the neurotoxin can cause this severe illness. There are only 25-30 cases of foodborne botulism each year in the United States, but the mortality rate is high if not treated immediately and properly.
There are 10 to 30 botulism cases in the United States each year. Determination of the source of an outbreak is based on detection and identification of Clostridium botulinum in food that was eaten by the people sickened. The most widely accepted method of identification is to inject extracts of the food into passively immunized mice (mouse neutralization test). The test takes 48 hours. This analysis is followed by culturing all suspect food in an enrichment medium for the detection and isolation of the causative organism. This test takes 7 days.
Most outbreaks are associated with inadequately-processed, home-canned foods, but commercially-produced food products have been involved in outbreaks. Two separate outbreaks have occurred involving commercially canned salmon. Restaurant foods such as sauteed onions, chopped bottled garlic, potato salad made from baked potatoes and baked potatoes themselves have been responsible for a number of outbreaks. Also, smoked fish, both hot and cold-smoke (e.g., Kapchunka) have caused outbreaks of type E botulism. Other outbreaks have been caused by tainted hot dog chili sauce, Italian olives, bottled garlic and baby food.
In some outbreaks, there is a recall of the food responsible for the illnesses. Even if there is not a recall, you may have a personal injury or wrongful death claim. If so, you have the right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation and hold wrongdoers accountable. These lawsuits are generally filed individually and not as part of a class action.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with botulism food poisoning, you may have a claim against a restaurant, retailer or food company. When someone is paralyzed by the toxin, compensation is generally substantial. Factors considered when determining a compensation package include the following:
If your loved one has died from this disease, your family may have a wrongful death claim. In these cases, compensation for the family may include the following: