Yes, you can sue a restaurant for food poisoning.
If you can prove that food served at the restaurant made you sick, you can file a personal injury claim. To do this, you will need to show:
- You were diagnosed with food poisoning;
- You ate food from the restaurant or contracted the illness from another person who ate there;
- Your illness caused you quantifiable harm.
If a health department has told you that you are part of an outbreak, you most likely have a lawsuit and will be eligible to recover compensation. According to a CDC report, most food poisoning outbreaks occur at restaurants.
Getting a Diagnosis of Food Poisoning
The first thing you need to do to protect your legal rights is to make sure your stool sample has been tested to determine the specific pathogen that made you sick, for example, E. coli O157 or Salmonella.
Individual cells of these pathogens must be sent to a special laboratory for genetic testing, the results of which are crucial evidence. Use our free consultation form to contact us, and one of our lawyers can talk with you about the lab work you need done. You may also need to ask them about leftovers you think may have caused your illness.
Evidence used to win these lawsuits includes the results of genetic tests done on bacteria found in you, in food, and in the restaurant.
Pathogens That Cause Food Poisoning
- Clostridium botulinum (bacteria that causes botulism, which can cause paralysis);
- Campylobacter (bacteria that causes campylobacteriosis, a complication of which is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS));
- Cyclospora (parasite that causes cyclosporiasis, which causes explosive diarrhea that can last for months);
- E. coli (bacteria that can result in colitis, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP));
- hepatitis A (a virus that can damage the liver);
- Listeria (bacteria that causes listeriosis, which very often results in meningitis (brain infection) and sepsis);
- Salmonella (bacteria that causes salmonellosis, which in severe cases can cause meningitis and sepsis);
- Shigella (bacteria that causes shigellosis, which can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome);
- Vibrio (bacteria that causes vibriosis, an often fatal illness caused by eating raw oysters and other seafood).
Food Poisoning Lawsuit for Compensation: 8 Things to Know
- 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 handle a significant number of these cases each year.
- If you sue the restaurant, our lawyers can get access to relevant information. Once our lawyers file a suit on your behalf, they can take legal steps to obtain relevant corporate and health department 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.
- You can be a voice for food safety. You may have an opportunity to be on television news programs or interviewed by newspaper reporters. By doing this, you can help educate people about the dangers of unsafe food. Several of our clients have been strong voices for food safety, providing compelling testimony to Congress that resulted in new food safety laws.
- 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.
- You need to be tested to find out which 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.
- 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 ask our lawyers. Every lawyer in our law firm has used this kind of evidence to win cases.
- If a sick employee was the origin of the 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.
- 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.
Find Out if You Can Sue a Restaurant for Compensation
Foodborne illness can be catastrophic. Many of the cases we handle involve permanent damage to the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs, and pancreas from severe complications such as 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.
Most lawyers do not handle these cases on a regular basis. We do, and we know what these cases are worth. Some of our law firm’s settlements and verdicts include the following:
- $7.55 million for a child who contracted an E. coli infection and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS);
- $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.
- $4.5 million for a man who ate unsafe food and suffered permanent brain damage.
- $4.5 million for a young woman whose kidneys failed after eating at a national chain restaurant. (Read about her case.)
Outbreaks and Lawsuits
Raw Onion Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Multiple Restaurants
Red, yellow and red onions have been linked to over 650 Salmonella Illnesses nationwide. These onions have been used by many restaurants and investigators have identified at least 20 sub-clusters tied back to people eating onions at restaurants.
El Sombrero Salmonella Outbreak
A Salmonella outbreak at El Sombrero in Fox River Grove, IL in late August and early September of 2021 prompted the restaurant’s temporary closure while health officials investigate.
La Luz Restaurant in Old Town Fort Collins Associated with Salmonella Outbreak
In August of 2018, people were sickened in a Salmonella outbreak associated with eating at La Luz, a restaurant located at 200 Walnut St. in Old Town Fort Collins, CO, sometime after August 1. Other La Luz locations were not part of this Salmonella outbreak. Lawsuits were filed on behalf of some of the people sickened.
McDonald’s Cyclospora Lawsuits Seek Settlement Money
Our law firm is representing dozens of people sickened in a Cyclospora outbreak linked to McDonald’s restaurants and lettuce products supplied to McDonald’s by Fresh Express. Some of our clients were sickened after eating salads, and others only ate lettuce on a burger. We are actively seeking to obtain money settlements to compensate our clients.
Damsy Restaurant E. coli Lawsuit
Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman instituted an E. coli lawsuit against the owners and operators of Damsy Restaurant, located at 405 1st Avenue SW, Rochester, Minnesota, on November 16, 2017. The Damsy Restaurant E. coli lawsuit seeks compensation for a little child under the age of two and the child’s parent, who lost wages and suffered additional damage.
Toyo Tire Salmonella Outbreak
Hundreds of people were sickened who ate a catered meal at Toyo Tire in White, Georgia, on November 15, 2017. We are representing people sickened in the Toyo Tire Salmonella outbreak, and a lawsuit will be filed soon.
Cafe Med and Back Bay Sandwich in Boston
Cafe Med and Back Bay Sandwich in Boston were linked to Salmonella poisoning. Both restaurants, located at 31 Saint James Avenue, had their permits pulled on May 18, 2017.
The Chicken & Rice Guys E. coli
Our law firm has filed a lawsuit against Chicken and Rice Guys for E. coli. Our client is one of at least 15 people sickened in an outbreak associated with eating food from a Chicken & Rice Guys (CNR) truck or restaurant. At least 15 people were sickened, 9 of them from Boston. Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman filed the suit on April 18. To contact our food safety lawyers about a lawsuit for compensation, call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free). Please note that this is not a class action lawsuit and that our national food safety law firm files individual suits on behalf of people sickened in outbreaks.
Duffy’s Bar and Grill in Osseo, Minnesota
Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman represented a man who was diagnosed with Salmonella after eating at Duffy’s Bar and Grill in Osseo, Minnesota in 2017. Our 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 law firm is representing people who were was diagnosed with Salmonella after eating at the MOOO restaurant located in Boston’s XV Beacon Hotel early in 2017, and attorneys attorneys at Pritzker Hageman 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).
Chipotle and E. coli O26
Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman filed a lawsuit against Chipotle for a client who was part of an outbreak in October and November of 2015 that 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
In September of 2015, seventeen Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota were associated with Salmonella Newport, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Locations involved to date are the following: 7 Corners (in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota), 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 at Pritzker Hageman 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.
Applebee’s Linked to E. coli Food Poisoning
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.
Subway Norovirus Outbreak
The Subway in Buena Vista, Colorado was associated with norovirus infections in 2014. Chaffee County Public Health was contacted by people claiming an illness in November of 2014.
Olive Garden and Red Lobster Cyclospora Outbreak
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. Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman successfully represented dozens of people sickened in this outbreak.
Buca di Beppo Linked to High School Student Illnesses
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 Associated with Salmonella Enteritidis Cases
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.