Liability for Injuries Caused by Foreign Objects Found in Food
The recall of Cub Foods’ olives because of possible glass particle contamination brings to mind Tennessee’s defective products liability law regarding the responsibility of manufacturers and restaurants for serious personal injuries caused by the ingestion of such things as bone, glass, or metal. Essentially, the law is the same for foreign objects as it is for food poisoning. The plaintiff must prove liability either on a simple negligence or a strict liability theory.
If applying a simple negligence theory, the plaintiff must establish that the food manufacturer or restaurant that distributed or served the food breached a duty owed to the customer, the breach of which caused the injury. This duty is defined as the duty to exercise ordinary or reasonable care to ensure that the product will not cause foreseeable injury. This duty includes employing all reasonable, scientific and/or up-to-date methods to eliminate the presence of an injurious foreign object.
Under Tennessee strict product liability theory, however, the plaintiff does not have to establish a duty of care or that the defendant breached a duty owed. Rather, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the food product placed on the market caused the injury. While deceptively simply, there is a catch (which also applies under the negligence theory): the plaintiff must show that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous at the time it left the control of the manufacturer or food server. This can be tricky especially where the food has been placed on a buffet and some time has passed before the plaintiff consumes the contaminated food.
Plaintiffs across the country have recovered for injuries resulting from ingesting such foreign objects as glass, nails, bones, and insects. If you or a loved one has ingested a foreign object and sustained a serious personal injury, call Tennessee's skilled personal injury attorneys at Baker Associates for a free consultation.