Food Safety Regulation and Litigation: Minimizing the Risk of Product Liability Claims

Mastering the Standards for Fault, Causation and Damages in Foodborne Illness Litigation

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

Conducted on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide product liability counsel with a review of the latest regulatory and case law developments related to food safety. The panel will examine key issues in foodborne illness litigation, explain the definition of the standards for fault, causation and damages, and offer best practices to defend these lawsuits.


The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are over 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. each year. To contain this perceived epidemic, federal regulators have over the last few years implemented a number of measures, including preventive controls, import and export rules, produce safety standards, rules on administrative detention, and rules on product tracking and sanitary transportation under the Food Safety Modernization Act administered by the FDA. These new laws in turn will impact how cases are handled in the litigation.

Lawsuits from foodborne illnesses can be costly and time consuming. Jury verdicts often reach millions of dollars and garner unfavorable media attention. Successfully defending a food safety claim hinges upon mastering the standards unique to these cases.

Foodborne illness liability requires the establishment of fault and causation by the plaintiff. Counsel for both parties must understand the scientific link between the foodborne illness, the alleged harm to a plaintiff and the defendant’s product to litigate food safety lawsuits.

Counsel must also understand how to assess damages. The financial liability of all parties involved, the anticipation of plaintiffs’ future medical costs, and defendants’ insurance coverage all play a key role in determining damages.

Listen as our authoritative panel of product liability attorneys discusses the latest developments in food safety regulation and litigation, and defines the standards for establishing fault and causation and proving damages. The panel will explain best practices to defend foodborne illness lawsuits.



  1. Regulatory and compliance requirements in food safety
    1. Recent developments under the Food Safety Modernization Act
    2. Statutes/regulations
  2. How these rules effect product liability law
    1. Increased record keeping
    2. Public notification
  3. Proposition 65
  4. Class actions
  5. The food safety product liability claim
    1. Brief overview of science of foodborne illness
    2. Delineating fault
    3. Defining a scientific causal link
  6. How to pay for a food safety problem
    1. Types of costs a food liability problem can cause
    2. Role of insurance and other risk-spreading tools
    3. Early steps to take when claims or recalls occur
    4. What your company or client can do now to prepare


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What measures have regulators taken to reign in the increasing number of foodborne illness incidents?
  • What are the standards for liability and negligence, and which defendants are held to each standard in food safety litigation?
  • How does available insurance coverage influence how counsel approaches the legal issues involved?
  • What is the role of expert witnesses in establishing causation and determining damages?


James F. Neale
James F. Neale


Mr. Neale’s practice focuses on high-exposure cases in courts across the country. He has substantial mass tort...  |  Read More

Lee N. Smith
Lee N. Smith
Coleman & Horowitt

Mr. Smith has provided representation in the areas of land and natural resource regulation and development,...  |  Read More

W. Hunter Winstead
W. Hunter Winstead


Mr. Winstead is an experienced litigator who represents clients in financial and commercial disputes, corporate...  |  Read More

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