The recent listeria outbreak has been making national news over the past several weeks. According to a prominent news source, some leading organic food companies have had to issue recalls for some of their packaged foods. One organic food company had to recall almost 75,000 cases of frozen food because they possibly contained contaminated spinach.
Listeria is a disease that can result in extreme illness and in some cases even death. Young children, the elderly, and those who have a weakened immune system are particularly prone to developing a serious case of the disease. Some of the common initial symptoms of listeria include diarrhea, nausea, headache, and stiffness. Often, listeria goes undiagnosed because the initial symptoms mirror the flu. Pregnant women also face a danger of miscarriage and stillbirth if they contract the disease.
Some common items that have been recalled in this most recent outbreak are various types of tofus, pasta shells, spinach pizza, brown rice and vegetable bowls, and other frozen dishes made by these companies. Sadly, five people have developed listeria after eating contaminated food, and three of those individuals have died as a result.
Types of Claims for Food-Related Illnesses in Maryland
Food poisoning and related diseases due to contaminated food can have particularly disastrous consequences. These days, food items are shipped throughout the country, and as such contaminated food can reach all corners of the country and can be difficult to contain, identify, and control. If a person has become ill or died because of a food-borne illness, there are different causes of actions they can pursue against various parties.
Breach of Warranty Claims in Maryland
Maryland has an implied warranty when it comes to individuals who purchase prepackaged foods. The warranty explains that a product should correspond to a consumer’s expectations. In product liability cases, Maryland uses the reasonable-expectation test. Basically, it consists of whether a buyer of a food item would reasonably expect to find the particular item in a food. In the case above, it can be argued that individuals who purchased the frozen foods could not have reasonably expected to develop listeria.
Strict Liability Claims in Maryland
In Maryland, if an individual becomes ill because of a food item that they ate at a restaurant, they may be able to bring a strict liability claim. The consumer must be able to establish that the food served or bought was unreasonably dangerous and defective. In these types of cases, almost everyone who was in the chain of distribution may be held liable. This includes manufactures, wholesalers, and retailers.
Negligence in Food Borne Illness Cases in Maryland
To bring a negligence claim in a food-borne illness case, certain elements must be established. First, the plaintiff must be able to show that the restaurant, store, or manufacturer owed them a standard duty of care. This usually translates to proving that these entities have a duty to provide the consumer with safe food. Then, the plaintiff must establish that the company breached their duty and that this breach was the proximate or actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
Have You Become Ill Because of Contaminated Food?
If you or a loved one has become ill or died because of contaminated food, you may consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the culpable party. As you can see, it can be difficult to establish these types of claims because the plaintiff must prove negligence by showing an isolated and easily identifiable source of contamination. Often, a defendant will try to claim that the plaintiffs became sick from another source. An attorney at our office can help you develop your claim and offer you the highest quality representation. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you suffered. Contact the attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Appellate Court Considers the Cap on Judgments Against Municipalities, Maryland Accident Law Blog, January 16, 2015.
Court Dismisses Accident Victim’s Case Based on Lack of Expert Witness Testimony, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 23, 2015.