Can I Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning?

Yes, you can sue a restaurant for food poisoning if there is evidence linking your illness to the restaurant. In most cases, the results of genetic testing of bacterial cells is used as evidence to connect a restaurant and food product to an outbreak of illness. Our lawyers have won multi-million-dollar settlements, including $4.5 million for a young woman who ate at a chain restaurant, contracted an E. coli infection, and developed a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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Bad Bug Law Team

Our lawyers help people sickened by contaminated food get compensation and justice.

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Outbreak Settlements

Some of our law firm’s results include the following:

  • $7.55 million for a child who contracted an E. coli infection and developed hemolytic uremic syndome (HUS);
  • $4.5 million for a young woman who got E. coli-HUS renal failure after eating at a national chain restaurant;
  • $6.4 million in a case that involved a mother who contracted a Listeria infection (listeriosis) while pregnant and lost her unborn twins and a family whose loved one died in the same outbreak.

8 Things You Should Know about a Restaurant Lawsuit for Compensation

1. A Lawsuit Can Lead to a Faster Settlement

Filing a restaurant lawsuit tells the company that owns the restaurant that you mean business and that you have sufficient evidence to prove your personal injury or wrongful death claim. Also, it lets the company know that you have experienced lawyers working for you because we are one of the few law firms in the United States who handles a significant number of these cases each year.

2. If You Sue the Restaurant, Our Lawyers Can Get Access to Relevant Information

When a lawsuit is filed, we can get early access to relevant corporate documents.  Without a lawsuit, we cannot force them to share any information. In addition, we can interview restaurant employees, corporate executives and others to get additional information. Our goal is to get you answers, compensation and justice, and a lawsuit is often the only way to do that.

3. You Can Be a Voice for Food Safety

A lawsuit crystallizes the food safety message that you want to send. When the media covers a lawsuit, they want to have contact with the victim or his/her family so they can tell the story from the standpoint of the victim. This allows people like you to be a voice for food safety and the reforms necessary to prevent this from happening to someone else. Several of our clients have been strong voices for food safety, providing compelling testimony to Congress that resulted in new food safety laws.

4. If More Than 2 People Got Food Poisoning from the Restaurant, You May be Part of an Outbreak

If you and at least one other unrelated person got food poisoning after eating at the same restaurant, you may be part of a food poisoning outbreak linked to that restaurant. In many outbreaks linked to restaurants in this way, the specific menu item that made the people sick is never determined. Even so, the people sickened in the outbreak have been able to get settlement payouts from the company that owns the restaurant. Because of this, your being part of an outbreak helps you get compensation. Our food poisoning lawyers have won money for many clients sickened in outbreaks.

Your local health department may let you know if you are part of an outbreak.

5. You Need to Be Tested to Find out What Pathogen Gave You Food Poisoning

If you are seriously ill with food poisoning symptoms, your doctor will most likely send a blood, stool or urine sample in for testing to determine what pathogen (bacteria, virus or parasite) made you sick. The following are some of the pathogens that can contaminate food and cause illness or wrongful death:

If your doctor says you have food poisoning, ask if he or she will do further testing to determine if one of the pathogens above caused your illness.

E coli

Low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria.

6. If a Pathogenic Bacteria Caused Your Illness, Its DNA “Fingerprint” Needs to be Determined

Bacteria have DNA fingerprints that can be determined with processes called pulsed-field gel electrophoreses (PFGE) and whole gene sequencing (WGS). When someone is diagnosed with Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella, or another bacterial pathogen that can cause food poisoning, health officials can send cells of the bacteria found in the patient to get that cell’s DNA fingerprint, called a pattern.

If the same bacterial pathogen is found in the restaurant (in food, on equipment, etc.), PFGE or WGS testing can also be done on bacteria found in the restaurant. If the DNA patterns from you and the restaurant match, this is “smoking gun” evidence that the restaurant caused your illness.

We highly recommend that you only hire a lawyer who has used PFGE and WGS patterns as evidence to win money for clients. If you have questions about PFGE and WGS, you can as our lawyers. Every lawyer in our law firm has used this kind of evidence to win cases.

7. If a Sick Employee and Not Contaminated Food Caused an Outbreak, You Can Still Sue and Win

Some outbreaks are caused by a sick employee. In many of these outbreaks, an ill food worker transmits the illness either directly to food or to surfaces that come into contact with food.  This means that many different foods served by the restaurant may be contaminated rather than just one product.  People who get sick in these outbreaks most often consume this adulterated food, and they generally have the right to sue the restaurant. Our lawyers have successfully handled many cases like this.

In any case, whether you get food poisoning from the restaurant environment or from contaminated food directly, you should contact an attorney to find out if you have the right to sue for compensation.

8. Don’t Throw Away Leftovers until You Talk to a Lawyer

Leftovers are sometimes tested to find out if they are contaminated. In some outbreaks, local health officials have gathered leftover food suspected of being the source of an illness. For this reason, it is extremely important that you talk to a lawyer before throwing out leftover food from a restaurant.

Can Outbreak Victims Sue for Complications like Kidney Failure, Stroke and Meningitis?

Yes, foodborne pathogens can cause severe complications, including kidney failure from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), stroke, heart attack, pancreatitis, colitis (sometimes bad enough that part of the colon needs to be removed), meningitis and reactive arthritis.


The Chicken & Rice Guys E. coli Lawsuit

Our law firm has filed a lawsuit against Chicken and Rice Guys for E. coli food poisoning. Our clients is one of at least 15 people sickened in an E. coli outbreak associated with eating food from a Chicken & Rice Guys (CNR) truck or restaurant. To date, there are 15 reported cases, 9 of them people from Boston. Attorneys Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm filed the suit on April 18, 2017. To contact Brendan and Ryan about a lawsuit for compensation, call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free). Please note that this is not a class action and that our national food safety law firm files individual suits on behalf of people sickened in outbreaks. If you have questions about this, please ask Brendan and Ryan during your free consultation.

Duffy’s Bar and Grill in Osseo, Minnesota

Attorney Ryan Osterholm is representing a man who was diagnosed with Salmonella poisoning after eating at Duffy’s Bar and Grill in Osseo, Minnesota. Ryan’s client is one of 5 people whose Salmonella Enteritidis infections may be associated with Duffy’s, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which is investigating the outbreak.

Salmonella after Eating at MOOO Restaurant in XV Beacon Hotel in Boston

Our national food safety law firm was contacted on February 9, 2017, by a person who was diagnosed with a Salmonella infection after eating at the MOOO restaurant located in Boston’s XV Beacon Hotel, and attorneys Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm are representing this person. There are at least 7 others from Massachusetts who may have been sickened. It is possible that people from other states were also sickened in this outbreak. If you were sickened, submit the form below or call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free).

E. coli from Captain Al’s Steak and Shrimp in Gulfport, Mississippi

The E. coli outbreak was first made public on Captain Al’s Steak and Shrimp Facebook page. Our law firm has been contacted by people reporting illness after eating at Captain Al’s, a restaurant located at 11268 Lorraine Rd, Gulfport, Mississippi. Contact our law firm about a lawsuit for compensation.

Pappadeaux Restaurant Lawsuit

Pritzker Hageman attorneys Ryan Osterholm and Brendan Flaherty filed a lawsuit against Pappas Restaurants, Inc., owner of Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Phoenix. The suit was filed on behalf of a woman who contracted a Salmonella infection after eating at the Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen located at 11051 North Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, Arizona 85029.

5 E. coli Cases Associated with Matador Restaurant in Ballard

The Matador restaurant in Ballard, Washington, has been associated with a cluster of five E. coli infections. Four of the 5 people ate at the restaurant on August 14, 2016; one person, on August 22. Health officials received the first report of illness on August 22, and the last report of illness on September 6.

Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Tropical Smoothie Cafe

50 people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A in an outbreak linked to Tropical Smoothie Café restaurants in Virginia. Of those sickened, over 40 are from Virginia. There are also 7 people from 4 other states who are part of this outbreak. The illnesses have been linked to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt.

Genki Sushi Restaurants Possible Source of Hepatitis A Outbreak

Imported, frozen scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants are a possible source of the hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii that has sickened over 160 people. Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai have been temporarily closed on order from the State of Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH).

Lawsuit against Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill in Chicago for E. coli Food Poisoning

Our law firm filed a lawsuit today, July 8, 2016, against Carbòn Live Fire Mexican Grill in Chicago on behalf of a woman who contracted E. coli food poisoning in an outbreak that has sickened at least 50 people. We are also representing several other people who were diagnosed with E. coli after eating at the Carbòn located at 300 W. 26th Street.

Pizza Ranch E. coli Lawsuit Filed

Attorney Ryan Osterholm, national food safety lawyer, filed the first lawsuit against Pizza Ranch today, March 17, 2016, on behalf of the family of S.S., a 7-year-old girl from Kansas who was sickened in an E. coli outbreak associated with eating at a Pizza Ranch restaurant. Our young client is one of 13 people from 9 states sickened in the outbreak: Iowa,  Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina  South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery in Dayton, OH

The Public Health Department of Dayton and Montgomery County has linked an outbreak of Salmonella to Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery. The department received 80 reports of illness between February 22 and February 28, 2016.

Boston College Norovirus Outbreak Associated with Chipotle

December 2015: The Boston College norovirus outbreak has sickened at least 120 students, almost all of whom ate at the Chipotle restaurant in Cleveland Circle before onset of illness, according to Boston College officials.

Chipotle and E. coli O26

Campylobacter BacteriaOctober and November 2015: Attorneys Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm filed a lawsuit against Chipotle for alleged E. coli food poisoning. The outbreak has sickened over 20 people in Washington and over 10 in Oregon. The suit involves the Chipotle at 7715 NE 5th Avenue, #109, Vancouver, Washington.

Chipotle Salmonella Lawsuit Filed

September 2015: 17 Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota have been associated with Salmonella Newport, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Locations involved to date are the following: 7 Corners (Minneapolis), Bloomington, Calhoun, Crystal, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Minnetonka, Richfield, Ridgedale, Rochester, Shoreview, St. Cloud, St. Louis Park, St. Paul Lawson, Uptown, and US Bank Plaza (Minneapolis).

Cucumbers at Red Lobster

Attorneys Ryan Osterholm and Brendan Flaherty filed a lawsuit against Red Lobster on September 7, 2015, on behalf of a child who allegedly ate at the restaurant located in Oakdale, Minnesota, and then was diagnosed with a Salmonella Poona infection. The lawsuit alleges that the child’s case is one of hundreds linked to cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson. The firm also has other clients sickened in the nationwide outbreak, which prompted a cucumber recall. Read about the first Red Lobster lawsuit filed for tainted cucumbers.

CoV in Wayzata

Last month there was an outbreak of Salmonella Virchow at CoV Wayzata. Nine cases were identified, 7 of them confirmed with laboratory testing. All the cases ate there on either Aug 4th (4 of the people sickened) or Aug 5th (5 of those sickened). Lobster guacamole was the only food associated with illness. The Minnesota Department of Health did an environmental health assessment and identified a number of issues related to cross-contamination and temperature abuse. (As of the date this was written, September 22, 2015, we have been contacted by one of the people and are just starting our independent investigation.)

Fig & Olive in Washington D.C.

Our law firm has been contacted by people who were diagnosed with Salmonella after allegedly eating at a Fig & Olive in Washington D.C. Our lawyers are investigating these illness and preparing to file suit.

Fig & Olive on Melrose in West Hollywood, CA

We have been contacted by people sickened after eating at the Fig & Olive located at 8490 Melrose Pl, West Hollywood, California. Ryan has started an independent investigation. These illnesses are most likely related to the DC illnesses, and the source may be truffle oil made by the restaurant.


An outbreak of E. coli O111 infections in 2014 were linked to 9 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurants in Minnesota. At least 15 people were infected in late June and early July, 2014. The investigation found evidence that green, whole head cabbage was the source.


The Subway in Buena Vista, Colorado was associated with norovirus infections in 2014. Chaffee County Public Health was contacted by people claiming illness in November of 2014.

Olive Garden and Red Lobster

In 2013, 227 people contracted Cyclospora infections after eating at various Olive Garden and Red Lobster locations in Iowa and Nebraska. The FDA and CDC determined that salad mix from Mexico was the source of the outbreak. The salad mix was processed by Taylor Farms de Mexico.

Buca di Beppo

In May of 2013, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) received a report via its online reporting system of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses in 20 of 47 local high school students who ate a group meal at the Buca di Beppo located in the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, 3850 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada. The meal was eaten before the students attended prom.

Old Country Buffet

In January of 2013, at least 23 people were sickened after eating at  Old Country Buffet in Maple Grove, Minnesota.  Eleven of these tested positive for a genetically indistinguishable strain of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Our law firm is representing people sickened in outbreaks linked to restaurants. Please note that these are individual, not class action, lawsuits. Ask our lawyers about this during your free consultation if you have questions.