Defense Wins: Product Liability / Food Borne Illness

Summary judgment was granted on behalf of my client in a case involving a claim of salmonella poisoning and the plaintiff did not appeal the ruling. The moral to this case is that timing matters!

The plaintiff claimed he worked an overnight shift at a factory (but did not eat) and on his way home he bought a breakfast sandwich at a fast-food restaurant. Once at home the plaintiff went to sleep and when he woke up a few hours later he had extreme stomach pain and other symptoms. The plaintiff’s complaints continued and the next day he was hospitalized and later diagnosed with salmonella exposure. The plaintiff did not notify the restaurant of his illness but later filed suit, claiming the breakfast sandwich caused his salmonella exposure.

After completing fact discovery and deposing the plaintiff’s gastroenterologist we filed a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff purchased the breakfast sandwich at 5 am and his symptoms started within 2 1/2 – 3 hours of eating the sandwich. According to the defendant, the plaintiff’s doctor and the FDA, symptoms from salmonella are not experienced until 12-72 hours after exposure at the earliest, and therefore, the breakfast sandwich could not have been the cause of the plaintiff’s salmonella.

The court agreed there was no evidence supporting the plaintiff’s claim and summary judgment was granted.