Ever since the infamous McDonalds “hot coffee” case a number of years ago, some people believe they have hit the lottery when a restaurant serves them bad food or otherwise causes them harm. Unfortunately, those people are misinformed on two counts. (1) Restaurant food negligence cases will normally not bring them riches. (2) The McDonalds “hot coffee” case was not a frivolous lawsuit where a woman hit the jackpot.
As an attorney for over 35 years, I can’t begin to remember the number of times I’ve gotten a call from a potential client that went something like this, “I was at a fast food restaurant and ordered a burger. When I removed the top of the bun I saw a roach in the melted cheese. I could have eaten that disgusting thing! I want to sue. How much can I get?” What I then proceed to do is give my stock answer which goes something like this, “Yes. The restaurant was negligent in serving you that roachburger. But you didn’t eat it. You didn’t get sick. You have no damages other than maybe the cost of the sandwich. No case.”
Being grossed out, or the “ick factor,” is not a viable cause of action against a restaurant. What could have happened is also not a basis for any type of claim. There are, however, times when a restaurant can be held liable for the bad food they serve. I once had a food poisoning case against a well-established eatery in Manhattan. Approximately 40 people got sick that day from eating bad tortellini soup. My client ended up needing hospital care. The case was settled quickly, for a modest amount, with the insurance company for the restaurant.
Those 40 patrons who got sick on the restaurant’s food all had good cases because they all suffered injury. They all needed medical treatment. They all had medical bills.
As for that infamous McDonalds lawsuit, most people do not know the true facts of the case. Most news outlets reported the case as another example of frivolous lawsuits and used it to push for “tort reform.” I wrote an article on that case a little while back. I am including a link so you can read the full story.
If you find yourself in a restaurant and are served food that has some object in it, you need to report it to the owner and ask for a replacement or refund… that is, if you still want to eat in that restaurant! It is not to be confused with it being your lucky day.
This reminds me of that old joke, “Waiter, what is that fly doing in my soup? Waiter, “Looks like the backstroke!”
Be well. Eat well. Sometimes stuff happens!
Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net