Food Poisoning - Part II - Jones Law Group

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By: Heath C. Murphy + – Personal Injury

Yesterday, I wrote an article about food poisoning. The article took a much more clinical approach than what I originally set out to write. However, it is extremely important to any food poisoning case that the individual pathogen be identified. Today, I will look at a food poisoning case from a more practical point of view and from the perspective of the law firm that will represent the plaintiff.

The Difficulty in Pursuing a Food Poisoning Case in Florida

Here is the basic issue in most food poisoning cases. The plaintiff after visiting a St. Petersburg restaurant suffers from a case of food poisoning or more properly stated; what they believe to be a case of food poisoning. The problem is that most cases of food poisoning cases share several common symptoms, namely, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal distress. These symptoms could also be the flu or stomach virus, unrelated to the food which was consumed.

Complicating matters further is that each of the pathogens, commonly associated with food poisoning, also have differing incubation periods. These incubation periods range from several hours to 10 days. This means that while you may associate your illness with the snack you grabbed from that food truck in downtown St. Petersburg yesterday, the real culprit may have been the burger you ate last Friday on St. Pete Beach. Obviously, it is important to determine restaurant or source of the food poisoning in order to maintain a successful claim.

What is Required to Prove Your Food Poisoning Case

If you are suffering a severe case of food poisoning it is important to seek medical care. In many instances, the doctor will simply provide a generic diagnosis of food poisoning. It is important that you request that the doctor conduct further testing to determine the specific pathogen which has made you ill. Once the particular pathogen has been identified, it will narrow down the list of possible sources. If the incubation period is 12-48 hours then you will most likely have a very good idea of where you have eaten during that time frame. The identity of the pathogen may also narrow down the list of foods from which food poisoning was contracted. It is also important to save any leftovers of the food which you may have of food which you consumed in the days preceding the bout of food poisoning, as such food can be tested to either eliminate it as a suspect or confirm it as the food containing the pathogen.

What is Required to Prove Your Food Poisoning Case

The 2011 case of Colson v. Tampa Hotel-Vef IV Operator, Inc., d/b/a Hyatt Regency Tampa Hotel, and Hyatt Corporation provides guidance as to what evidence will be required by the court in a food poisoning case. The plaintiff, in that case, ate a cheeseburger at the Tampa Hyatt. She started experiencing food poisoning symptoms approximately 22 hours later. Ms. Colson sought medical treatment and her doctors were able to determine that the pathogen responsible for her illness was E.coli.

E.coli is commonly found in ground beef, but usually takes between 1 and 9 days for symptoms to appear. The cheeseburger would seem to present a likely culprit, but Ms. Colson’s symptoms manifested themselves a little earlier than would typically be expected which is a 3 to 4 day incubation period. To further complicate matters, Ms. Colson had no adequate recollection of the meals she had eaten during the 9 day maximum expected incubation period. She had no leftovers to test. Finally, she testified that the cheeseburger appeared to be thoroughly cooked and tasted normal.

The Court found that Ms. Colson did not present evidence that indicated that it was more likely than not that the cheeseburger caused the food poisoning. At most, the Court found that Ms. Colson had established that the cheeseburger might have caused her food poisoning. The Court stated that if the plaintiff had presented evidence of food consumption during the incubation period, or evidence of other diners contracting food poisoning, or had stated that the cheeseburger tasted funny or was undercooked that it may have required a different finding. As you can see, Florida courts will not be swayed by simply stating a belief that a certain meal caused the food poisoning. There must also be a scientific and factual basis for supporting the conclusion.

Contact Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been the victim of food poisoning? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury law firm today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of eating contaminated food, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707