Recently, the San Francisco Department of Public Health made a public announcement concerning food poisoning. The department warned the public against purchasing herbal tea at a shop called the Sun Wing Wo Trading Company. The reason for the warning was due to two victims suffering illnesses – one even dying – after drinking a toxic cup of tea.
The herbal tea at the shop contained Aconite, a lethal poison. Unfortunately, there is no antidote for Aconite poisoning. One victim, a man in his 30’s, was hospitalized after drinking the poisonous tea. The other victim, a 56-year old woman, died as a result. This is obviously an extreme case of a health and safety violation. Still, many people get sick due to consuming food or drink at an establishment. If you are the victim of a food and drink safety violation, what is your legal recourse?
Obligations of Dining Services in New York City
In New York City, the Health Department inspects about 24,000 restaurants a year. Many New Yorkers are familiar with the letter grade system that bestows windows of countless dining establishments. Restaurants receive points based on the violations found by the health inspector. The lower the score the better. A brief overview of the criteria set forth by the City’s health department is as follows:
• A public health hazard, such as failing to keep food at the right temperature, triggers a minimum of 7 points. If the violation can not be corrected before the inspection ends, the Health Department may close the restaurant until it’s fixed.
• A critical violation, for example, serving raw food such as a salad without properly washing it first, carries a minimum of 5 points.
• A general violation, such as not properly sanitizing cooking utensils, receives at least 2 points.
Filing a Food Poisoning Claim
If you get sick as a result of the food you consumed at a restaurant, you may want to file a defective product liability claim or a personal injury suit against the food provider. There are a few elements you must prove in order to have a successful personal injury suit. First, you need to prove that you were sickened due to what you consumed at the restaurant. This means if possible, you should save some of the food that sickened you in order to get it tested in a lab. Moreover, you want to seek medical treatment right away, perhaps obtaining a stool sample. Furthermore, you might seek out other diners who became ill due to the food or drink. Essentially, you need evidence to back up your claim.
Second, you need to show that negligence led to the contaminated food or drink. Was the kitchen staff acting recklessly and breaching an agreed upon duty of care? For example, did the chef not take proper care to ensure that food was cooked properly or stored at the right temperature? What the staff was doing leading up to the contaminated food is an important aspect in your case.
Finally, to win, you must prove two things. The first is that the food you ate contained contamination. The second s that the contamination made you sick. As stated before, there is a lot of evidence you should collect once you realize something is wrong. Also, it’s important to note, that according to N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules § 201 et seq., the statute of limitation for filing a food poisoning lawsuit in NY is 3 years. As always, the less time between the incident and filing the lawsuit, the better.
Sound Legal Counsel
A food-borne illness can be devastating and lead to serious health problems. Were you a victim of unsafe food and drink consumption? Hire an experienced attorney today to help you file your suit. Fill out our convenient online form for a free consultation or call (800) 762-9300 today!