Food Allergy Lawsuit Success Depends on Disclosure

A diner in Texas is suing a restaurant in Galveston for personal injuries after he allegedly suffered a terrible allergic reaction during a meal in which he was served shrimp. food

According to the SE Texas Record, the plaintiff alleges he informed the waiter at the seafood restaurant of his allergy to shrimp. He ordered the crawfish etoufee and fried oysters, and he specifically informed the server that there could be no shrimp or shrimp residue on the plate. The water insisted the dishes the man ordered did not contain shrimp. The plaintiff’s food arrived, and almost immediately after he began eating, the plaintiff began to suffer an allergic reaction. He couldn’t breathe. An ambulance was called, and emergency responders took him to a local hospital, where he received a shot that saved his life.

His wife later learned that the waiter allegedly forgot to convey the message about the shrimp allergy to the kitchen staff. It is this breakdown of communication that will likely be the strongest piece of evidence in the plaintiff’s favor. The fact is that restaurants, grocery stores, and other companies don’t necessarily have to make sure they have food that will fit your dietary needs, even if the potential for a serious allergic reaction exists. However, if a patron discloses an allergy to the restaurant, the restaurant then has a duty to either comply with the request or warn that they are unable to comply.

Another example of this was seen in Boston earlier this year, when the mother of a little girl with a serious peanut allergy disclosed this fact – twice – to servers at a sandwich shop, only to have her daughter become gravely ill when a glob of peanut butter was smeared in her grilled cheese.

As The Boston Globe reported, the mother of the five-year-old noted the girl’s peanut allergy twice on an online order form. Yet when the girl bit into the sandwich, she immediately tasted peanut butter. Her father opened the sandwich and saw about two tablespoons of it. The girl did not suffer serious injuries, although she did break out in hives and was admitted overnight to the hospital. When her parents returned to the restaurant to discuss the issue with a manager, they were informed there had been a “language issue.”

A similar issue reportedly happened less than a month later in Wayland, Massachusetts, raising questions about whether the incidents were deliberate or erroneous.

It underscores the fact that no dining experience can ever be allergy-safe – even when reasonable measures are followed. Still, customers can expect restaurants will take reasonable and ordinary precautions when preparing food for their customers. That means that customers have to use common sense. If you are allergic to peanuts, it’s unwise to order a dish fried in peanut oil. You can ask the restaurant for a substitution, but the restaurant isn’t under any obligation to give it to you, as long as they have disclosed what the possible allergens are.

Some foods that commonly trigger food allergies include:

  • Nuts (especially peanuts)
  • Wheat products
  • Dairy products
  • Shellfish and other kinds of seafood

Although reactions to consuming these foods can vary, some potential reactions include skin rashes, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and swelling.

If you have suffered an allergic reaction to food served at a restaurant, an injury lawyer can explain if you have a viable case.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Diner alleges Landry’s waiter failed to report shellfish allergy, Nov. 4, 2016, By John Suayan, SE Texas Record

More Blog Entries:

Havner v. Northeast Arkansas Electric Cooperative – Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Remanded, Nov. 18, 2016, Asheville Injury Lawyer Blog

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