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Restaurant accused of food poisoning death

A wrongful death is not limited to construction mishaps or fatal car accidents. For example, a woman filed a lawsuit against a Mexican restaurant in West Lafayette in August for the death of her husband and for the injury she suffered from food poisoning.

The plaintiff and her husband were hospitalized for flu-like symptoms after they had a family lunch at the restaurant. However, he died four days later. The county coroner ruled that food poisoning from the restaurant was the cause of his death.

Local media said that there were serious delays with the state and federal investigation. The Indiana Health Department took the lead in the investigation and sent food samples to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing. However, several months passed before an FDA lab was located that could properly test the samples. Another three months elapsed before the results were issued. During that time, the restaurant remained open and customers were unaware that the plaintiff, her husband and several other customers were afflicted with illness.

Laboratory tests eventually determined that Clostridium perfringens caused this food poisoning. This is dangerous bacteria that can grow if food is not properly heated and cooled. The Tippecanoe County health department also concluded that it was highly likely that the plaintiff, her husband and other customers contracted this bacteria from food prepared at this restaurant.

The restaurant was closed for several days after the customer's death during a county health department investigation before it reopened. The health department said that the restaurant extensively cleaned the establishment, received training in food safety and fixed numerous health violations.

The plaintiff charged that the restaurant was negligent with its procedures for food handling and that it did not properly supervise, train and monitor its workers to ensure that they complied with food safety regulations. The action does not contain a request for a specific amount of money. The plaintiff, however, asked for a jury trial to adjudicate compensatory and punitive damages and legal fees.

The restaurant denied these allegations and claimed that the plaintiff and her husband assumed the risk and were partially negligent. They also said that other intervening factors caused the injuries.

Families who suffer the loss of a loved one may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help them obtain evidence and assure that they can pursue a lawsuit.

Source: WTHR, "Indiana restaurant faces lawsuit for food poisoning death," Bob Segall, Oct. 13, 2017

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