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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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    What You Need to Know About Food Poisoning Lawsuits in Florida

    Food poisoning is an unpleasant and potentially life-threatening experience that can lead to significant health problems and financial losses. In Florida, individuals who have suffered from food poisoning may have legal recourse to recover damages.

    Understanding Food Poisoning

    Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, occurs when one ingests food contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, which can appear within hours or days after consuming the contaminated food. In the worst cases, victims can sustain serious, permanent or even fatal outcomes depending on what they contract.

    Legal Grounds for Food Poisoning Claims

    Food poisoning claims typically fall under the categories of product liability and negligence. To establish a viable food poisoning claim, the following criteria must be met:

    1. Proof of Contamination: You must demonstrate that your food was contaminated. This often requires medical or laboratory testing to identify the pathogen responsible for the illness.
    2. Link to the Food Provider: There must be a clear connection between your illness and the food provided by a restaurant, retailer, or manufacturer.
    3. Breach of Duty: Establish that the food provider failed in their legal duty to sell or serve safe food for consumption. This could be due to improper food handling, storage, or preparation practices.
    4. Damages: You must have suffered actual damages due to the food poisoning, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    Florida Food Safety Regulations

    The Florida Department of Health sets forth Hygiene Codes and Standards that food service establishments must follow. These regulations are designed to ensure that food is stored, prepared, and served safely to prevent foodborne illnesses.

    Florida Statutes Section 381.0072 requires that food service establishments must adhere to specific standards and requirements for food safety. Some examples of these standards and requirements include (but are not limited to):

    • Temperature Control: Foods must be stored, cooked, and served at appropriate temperatures to prevent the growth of pathogens. For instance, cold foods should be kept at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and hot foods should be kept at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
    • Cross-Contamination Prevention: Establishments must have procedures in place to prevent cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods, particularly with regard to allergens and foods like poultry, seafood, and meat.
    • Employee Hygiene: Employees must follow strict handwashing procedures and be prohibited from working when they have communicable diseases or infections that can be transmitted through food.
    • Facility Sanitation: Regular cleaning and sanitizing of equipment, utensils, and surfaces that come into contact with food are required to maintain a hygienic environment.
    • Pest Control: Effective measures must be in place to control pests and prevent them from contaminating food and food contact surfaces.
    • Proper Labeling: Foods must be properly labeled with expiration dates and stored to prevent the use of spoiled or contaminated items.
    • Food Safety Training: Employees should receive proper training in food safety principles and the specific practices of the establishment to ensure they understand how to handle food safely.
    • Health Inspections: Regular health inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with these standards, and any violations can lead to fines, mandatory closures, or other penalties.

    Failure to comply with these standards can be cited as evidence of negligence in a food poisoning lawsuit.

    Damages in Food Poisoning Lawsuits

    Victims of food poisoning can seek various types of damages, including:

    • Medical Expenses: Compensation for hospital visits, medication, and any ongoing treatment related to the foodborne illness.
    • Lost Wages: If the illness caused you to miss work, you could recover the wages lost during that period.
    • Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by the illness.
    • Punitive Damages: In cases where the food provider’s actions were particularly reckless or intentional, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.

    Reporting Foodborne Illness

    If you suspect you have contracted a foodborne illness, reporting it to the proper authorities is important. Use this form to report your suspected foodborne illness directly to the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology Food and Waterborne Disease Program. Reporting not only helps you document the incident for legal purposes but also assists in preventing further outbreaks.

    Food poisoning cases in Florida are taken seriously due to the potential for widespread outbreaks and severe health consequences. If you have suffered from food poisoning, seeking medical attention immediately and consulting a legal professional specializing in personal injury and product liability law is important. You may have grounds for a food poisoning lawsuit.

    Understanding your rights and the legal process is the first step toward recovering the compensation you deserve for your illness and losses. Leighton Panoff Law is dedicated to advocating for those affected by food poisoning. If you’ve suffered from such an illness, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

    Don’t let negligence go unchallenged—let our expertise guide you to a just resolution.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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