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Food Poisoning and Other Foodborne Harm: Claims and Defenses

Identifying All Potential Defendants and Causes of Action

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide personal injury plaintiff and defense counsel with a detailed examination of the rapidly expanding area of foodborne illness litigation. Regardless of the source, reactions to and injuries caused by contaminated food vary; the CDC estimates 47.8 million foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,037 deaths.


Most Americans are regularly exposed to one or more of the dozens of identified foodborne pathogens that nearly affect 50 million Americans annually. Although some instances of food poisoning may result in self-limited gastroenteritis, food poisoning may require hospitalization, can create lasting injuries, and can be fatal.

Food poisoning victims often turn to the courts to be compensated for their harm and suffering. There is no shortage of potential defendants, ranging from food retailers, distributors, processors, and growers. The duties of each potential defendant in the food distribution chain differ depending on the defendant's connection to the consumer and applicable state law.

Causation is often central to a food illness claim and requires microbiological input and epidemiological analysis. Food handlers may play a significant role in the outcome and may be liable for allowing contamination to spread or failing to implement food safety measures. Trial and discovery focus on a wide range of medical and scientific issues that determine whether a specific source of the food that allegedly resulted in foodborne illness can be determined.

Listen as the panel provides their perspectives on and experiences with foodborne illness litigation from both the defense and plaintiff point of view.



  1. Foodborne illness: prevalence and outcomes
  2. Potential defendants
  3. Claim considerations
    1. Negligence
    2. Res ipsa loquitor
    3. Strict liability
    4. Application of product liability principles
    5. Warranty claims
    6. Consumer Protection Act claims
  4. Defense considerations
    1. Assumption of risk
    2. Changes to product
    3. Unintended use
  5. Evidence issues
    1. Expert testimony
    2. Spoliation


This panel will review these and other essential matters:

  • How can food illnesses be linked to specific food items?
  • What fact issues consistently arise in foodborne illness cases?
  • Who are the potentially responsible parties for foodborne illness harms?
  • What claims and defenses relate to the different parties involved?


Clark, Bruce
Bruce Clark

Marler Clark

Mr. Clark has an extensive background in civil litigation, including personal injury, product liability and...  |  Read More

Davis, Ashley
Ashley T. Davis

Allen & Allen

Ms. Davis plays an integral role in the large and complex cases at the trial court and appellate level by identifying,...  |  Read More

Maxwell, Alan
Alan M. Maxwell

Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial

Mr. Maxwell leads the firm's nationally-recognized Foodborne Illness Practice Group and is recognized as a leading...  |  Read More

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