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Salmonella Lawsuit

Can You Sue If You Get Salmonella Food Poisoning?

Yes, you can sue if you get Salmonella food poisoning.  If the food, product or animal that gave you Salmonella can be identified, you can sue the store, restaurant, or supplier where you bought it.  If a food manufacturer was at fault, you can also sue the manufacturer who contaminated the food with Salmonella.  A Salmonella lawyer can help you file a claim for compensation or a Salmonella lawsuit.  Contact our experienced legal team at The Lange Law Firm for a free legal consultation today.

Salmonella Lawyer Answers FAQs on Salmonella Onions Outbreak

Why Our Firm?

The law firm that you choose to represent you in a food safety lawsuit can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. At The Lange Law Firm, we have significant experience handling lawsuits involving Salmonella poisoning.  Clients choose us for many reasons, including:

  • Because this is what we do.  We have won millions of dollars for our clients in Salmonella cases.
  • We believe that when companies sell food for a profit, that food should be safe to eat.
  • We have a nationwide food safety practice and have helped victims of severe food poisoning across the United States.
  • People call us when something terrible has happened and they need our help. Our commitment is to get them the help they need so that they can begin to rebuild their lives.  Our clients feel like family to us.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacterium. Salmonella causes a foodborne illness called Salmonellosis. Most of the time, Salmonella lives in the intestines of animals, and does not make them sick. A chicken or a turkey infected with Salmonella will often not show any signs of illness. However, when ingested by humans, Salmonella can make us very sick.

What is a Salmonella Lawsuit?

A Salmonella lawsuit is a way for victims of Salmonella food poisoning to be compensated for their medical bills, time lost from work, and the ordeal they went through.  In very severe cases, where there are long-term health consequences like reactive arthritis, a Salmonella lawsuit may be a way to recover compensation for future medical bills as well.

Lawsuits can also effect change to substandard food safety processes and procedures and potentially prevent other people from becoming ill from the same or similar sources.  Often, the only thing that can compel businesses or corporations to make changes is the threat of financial penalties from lawsuits.

How Do I Know If I Can File a Salmonella Lawsuit?

Give us a call!  We offer free, no-obligation legal consultations. If you became sick after eating or drinking a contaminated food item, you may qualify for a Salmonella claim for compensation.

In general, to have a valid claim you must:

  • Have been diagnoses with Salmonellosis
  • Have sufficient evidence that connects your illness to a product or location, such as a restaurant or grocery store.

Recently, Salmonella outbreaks have involved fresh fish at restaurants in California and Arizona and Jif brand peanut butter across 17 states.

It can be difficult for a single person to identify where they may have contract Salmonella poisoning.  Therefore, if you are diagnosed with Salmonellosis, it is in your best interests to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  A food safety lawyer can investigate the facts surrounding your illness and help identify and legally responsible parties.

What Do I Need to Do Before Filing a Salmonella Lawsuit?

To ensure that your rights are protected, it is always safest to get legal advice from a lawyer. There may be crucial deadlines related to your case.  So contacting a lawyer right away helps.

Your Salmonella case is important.  But, remember, your health is what is most important.  If you are experiencing food poisoning symptoms, seek medical attention first.  Early medical treatment can help prevent or reduce the long-term health consequences of Salmonella food poisoning.  When you see your doctor, be sure to ask for a stool test to determine if your illness is caused by Salmonella (or some other foodborne pathogen).  A stool test can also help determine what food caused your Salmonella (call us and we can explain).

How Can I Start Gathering Information and Documents for a Salmonella Lawsuit?

There are a few things we will need to pursue a Salmonella lawsuit for you. A copy of your receipt, for example, is good evidence for us to have for your case. If you were hospitalized, a copy of your discharge documents from your doctor is always helpful. But every case is different. So, the best way to determine what we may need for you is to give us a call.

What Kind of Case is a Salmonella Lawsuit?

There are three legal theories that nearly every Salmonella food poisoning and Salmonella lawsuit are based on.  The first is strict liability or product liability claims.  Legally, restaurants and many food companies are considered to be food manufacturers.  When a manufacturer sells a defective product (selling food contaminated with Salmonella, for example), they may be strictly liable for any harm that their defective product causes.  If a store or restaurant sold you food that was contaminated with Salmonella, then the store or restaurant may be strictly liable for the harm their defective product caused you. If the food manufacturer was at fault, then the manufacturer may also be subject to strict product liability.

The second is negligence.  The manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of food must use reasonable care to ensure that it is safe for consumers to eat.  If they fail to do so and those who eat it get sick, they may be legally responsible for the losses those consumers incur.

The third is breach of warranty. Consumers have a reasonable expectation that the food they purchase is not contaminated and will not make them sick.   This is known as an implied warranty.  An implied warranty is a merchant’s promise that the goods sold will do what they are supposed to do and that there is nothing significantly wrong with them.  If a merchant sells you food that is unsafe to eat, they have breached this implied warranty and the law may require them to provide a remedy in the form of financial compensation.

Who Can You Sue In a Salmonella Lawsuit?

In a Salmonella lawsuit, you may be able to sue the store or restaurant where you bought the food.  If the company that manufactured the food was at fault, you may also be able to sue the food manufacturer.  In some cases, you can sue multiple different companies in the chain of distribution, such as the supplier, distributor, packager, etc.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Salmonella Lawsuit?

There are several different types of damages that can be recovered in a salmonella lawsuit: 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the most common type of compensation awarded, and are available in all successful salmonella claims. They are meant to compensate for verifiable monetary losses. Those can include: 

  • Medical expenses: based on past, present, and future medical needs, the goal being to enable you to live as normal of a life as possible. 
  • Lost wages and loss of earning capacity: you may lose income by having to miss work because of your foodborne illness. If your resulting injuries are so severe that they prevent you from working in the future, damages may also be recovered for your lost earning capacity.
  • Burial and funeral costs: in cases of wrongful death.

If you have suffered any of these economic damages, or any other calculable losses, you have the right to recover their value in full. States do not have caps on actual losses. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses. Their value is much more difficult to calculate, as they are based on the individual’s extent of loss. That means it will vary on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of non-economic damages that may be secured in a salmonella lawsuit include:

  • Pain and suffering: based on the level of physical pain that you suffered or continue to endure, along with any loss of quality of life.
  • Emotional Distress: the degree of severity of emotional distress varies by each case, and can include anxiety, depression, insomnia, fear, humiliation, etc. testimony from a mental health professional will often be required. 
  • Loss of consortium: refers to the impact of your illness on your relationship with your spouse. Specifically, the loss of companionship. Some jurisdictions will also allow the impact on a parent and child relationship to be considered. 
  • Disability or Disfigurement: in some cases, Salmonella can cause joint pain and reactive arthritis that can last for months or even years. Potentially serious or life-threatening infections can also occur if Salmonella enters the bloodstream.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: if your salmonellosis has kept you from enjoying activities that you were able to engage in prior to becoming ill.  

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only available in some states, but are awarded to victims when the offending party’s behavior was egregious or intentional. The purpose of this compensation is not necessarily to add to the injured party’s award, but primarily as punishment for the defendant and as a way to deter others from similar misconduct. 

How Much is My Salmonella Food Poisoning Claim Worth? 

How much a salmonella food poisoning claim is worth varies on the facts specific to each case, but can be answered when consulting with a skilled food safety lawyer. Determining your claim’s worth will hinge on the following set of factors: 

  • The amount and strength of the supporting evidence. 
  • The severity of your infection and its impact on your life. 
  • Your ability to earn an income and/or participate in activities you enjoyed prior to your salmonellosis. 
  • The amount of medical bills and expenses related to your infection. 
  • How your marriage or relationships have been affected. 

An attorney will then assess these facts and details of your case to give you an estimated value.

How Do People Become Sick with Salmonella?

Usually through contaminated food and water, which can become tainted by:

  • Oral to fecal route. This means food or water has become contaminated with Salmonella laden feces
  • Cross-contamination. Raw meats and eggs (the inside and the shell of eggs) can cross-contaminate the food around them. This is why, when storing or preparing raw eggs or meat, it is best to separate them from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Undercooked meats. Meats that have not been cooked to their optimum cooking temperature may still have Salmonella. Without meats reaching the optimum cooking temperature, the Salmonella bacteria may still be present in the product.
  • Poor food safety practices. Unhygienic food safety practices, lack of proper sanitization methods and/or use of dirty equipment while processing, during distribution, or the preparation of food can also contribute to the spread of Salmonella and possibly even cause an outbreak.
  • Poor Hygiene. Simply not washing hands while handling food spread Salmonella.
  • Animals. Pets, petting zoos and livestock can spread salmonella in their droppings.  Recently, there have been significant outbreaks linked to bearded dragons.

How Common is Salmonella?

Salmonella is very common. Salmonella is one of the most common type of food poisoning, after Norovirus and Campylobacter. Each year, an estimated 1.2 million Americans will be infected with Salmonella illness.  Sadly, 23,000 of these people will be hospitalized.   450 of these people will die. Unfortunately, Salmonella is much more common than most people realize.

How Long Does It Take to Get Symptoms of Salmonella?

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually show between 6 hours and 3 days after ingesting food or water contaminated with Salmonella.

What Are the Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning?

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
  • Dehydration

Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning can be range from relatively mild to severe, requiring hospitalization in some cases.  Certain groups of people—especially children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems—are more likely to experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization.

Additionally, Salmonella can cause long-term problems for some people.  In some cases, those who have had a Salmonella infection develop pain in their joints, a condition that is called reactive arthritis, after the infection has ended. Reactive arthritis can last for months or years and can be difficult to treat.  In some cases, people with reactive arthritis develop pain when urinating and irritation of the eyes.

How Long Do I Have to File a Salmonella Lawsuit?

In any legal action, there are time limits on the length of time that you have from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.  These time limits are known as the statute of limitations.  In cases involving Salmonella poisoning, the time limits may depend on the state where the poisoning occurred and the type of legal claim that is involved.  For this reason, it is in your best interests to speak with an attorney as soon as you or a loved one are diagnosed with Salmonellosis.  Additionally, the evidence required to build a strong case can disappear quickly and often requires immediate investigation to preserve.  The longer you wait to file a lawsuit, the more likely it may be to miss the statutory window or lose crucial evidence to prove your case.

What You Need to Know About Salmonella Outbreaks

When a Salmonella outbreak occurs, it is typically three to four weeks until public health officials can report on and accurately tie the illness to a source.  This time frame is known as a lag window or reporting lag.  During this window, public health officials take a series of steps to identify the source of the outbreak and link illness to it.

  1. First, samples of ill patients are sent to clinical laboratories where tests are run to identy the germ that made them sick.
  2. The clinical lab then sends a sample to a public health laboratory for more testing.
  3. The public health lab performs whole genome sequencing analysis and other tests to gather more information about the germ.
  4. This information is then sent to the CDC, where scientists determine if the bacteria causing the illness is closely related genetically to any other recent results.
  5. If it is, the CDC may begin an outbreak investigation or add the case to an ongoing investigation.

What Caused the Salmonella Outbreak?

You may be asking what caused the Salmonella outbreak?  There have been many Salmonella outbreaks recently. Here are some of the latest Salmonella outbreaks in just the last couple of linked to food products, include:

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

When was the most recent outbreak of Salmonella?

The two most recent outbreaks of Salmonella involve contaminated fish and peanut butter.

Jif brand peanut butter

In May, 2022, the FDA announced that the J. M. Smucker Co. recalled several Jif® peanut butter products sold in the U.S. due to potential Salmonella contamination.  After an investigation, the CDC reported that the products were linked to Salmonella outbreaks across 17 states that made at least 21 people ill and hospitalized at least four.

Public health officials interviewed sick people about what they ate in the week before becoming ill. Of the 13 people interviewed, every single one reported eating peanut butter in the previous week.  All 13 of them reported eating Jif brand peanut butter specifically.  This percentage was much higher than the results from a survey of healthy people, in which 57% of respondents reported eating any peanut butter in the week before they were interviewed. This strongly suggests to public health officials that people in this outbreak got sick from eating peanut butter.  This investigation is now closed

Mariscos Bahia, Inc. fish products

Mariscos Bahia, Inc. voluntarily recalled several different types of fresh fish that is supplied to restaurants. The firm began shipping these products on June 14, 2022 and initiated a voluntary recall on October 20, 2022.

The list of recalled fish includes:

  • Fresh Salmon Fillet
  • Fresh Deep Skin Salmon Fillet
  • Fresh Salmon Portions
  • Chilean Seabass (Fillet and Portions)
  • Halibut (Fillet and Portions)
  • Tuna (Fillet and Loin)
  • Swordfish (Loin, Fillet, and Wheel)

As of November 1st, the CDC investigation is still active.  At this time at least 33 people have fallen ill across three states ( California, Arizona, and Illinois), with 13 people requiring hospitalization.

Interested in a Salmonella Lawsuit?

Have you or a loved one suffered from Salmonella poisoning? Thinking about pursuing a Salmonella lawsuit? If so, our experienced food safety lawyer can help.  We can investigate the source of your Salmonella poisoning, identify liable parties, and file a lawsuit on your behalf.  We offer a free and confidential case evaluation and never charge a fee unless we win.