Category: Food litigation tips

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Settlements and Implied Warranties

Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code contains powerful tools for buyers and sellers of food and other goods.  A recent case out of the Georgia Supreme Court emphasizes the critical gatekeeper function of the scope section of Article 2, Section 2-102.  This section provides: Unless the context otherwise requires, this Article applies to transactions … Continue Reading

Video From Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety

University of Nebraska has posted video on its website from the entire three days of the 2009 Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety. You can view my presentation on Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks. More important, you view the presentations of Dr. Andrew Benson and the other scientists who offer fascinating insights into the … Continue Reading

Tort Damages Not the Only Exposure from Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks

For lawyers and insurance adjustors, compartmentalizing food-borne illness claims is easy. They often see their jobs solely as minimizing the tort liability and legal fees. In my experience, attorneys and adjustors often fail to appreciate how outbreaks can affect a client’s (or even a whole industry’s) business going forward. Often, the long-term business losses of a … Continue Reading

Why Are Food-borne Organisms Associated with Beef?

 USDA’s Be Food Safe Twitter Feed circulated its Fact Sheet titled “Beef . . . from Farm to Table.” First published a few years ago, this might be of interest to businesses involved in the sale, marketing, labeling, and/or packaging of beef. The article is a helpful primer on the history of beef, current industry practices, USDA’s … Continue Reading

Practical Advice for Litigating the Food Case

Click here for the slides from a presentation I gave recently with Shawn Stevens entitled "Practical Advice for Litigating the Case: Retaining Experts, Assessing Damages and Planing Trial Strategy." Two threads of my part of the presentation were organization and relationships (I believe that these were also central to Obama’s campaign hence the campaign log). In … Continue Reading

Is It Really A Food-Borne Illness?

At a recent presentation, Dr. Alan Melnick, a public health officer in both Oregon and Washington, provided a useful list of alternative causes of symptoms to consider when someone claims a food-borne illness. Other causes of symptoms that might be confused for food-borne illness include (but may not be limited to): Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) … Continue Reading

The Billable Hour – Reflections on the CLE

I had the privilege of participating as a speaker at the Billable Hour CLE held recently at Seattle University School of Law. As an “outside” counsel, here were some of the most significant things I learned: 1. Clients may find the billable-hour system “frustrating.” Though for complex matters, lawyers and clients have to discover the … Continue Reading

Registration Still Open For The ACI Food-Borne Illness Litigation Conference in Scottsdale

December 4-5 is the American Conference Institute’s 2nd National Forum on Food-Borne Illness Litigation. The first forum turned out to be a very engaging and diverse forum (e.g. plaintiffs lawyers, industry lawyers, top state and federal officials) on emerging issues in food-borne illness. I will be one of the many speakers. Ralph Weber, an accomplished … Continue Reading

Nitty-Gritty on Menu Labeling Regulations and What Can Be Done to Stem Consumer Litigation

As restaurant chains operating in King County, Washington are readying to comply with the new menu labeling law, serious questions arise. Does each menu item have to be sent to an expensive lab for testing? How accurate does the nutritional information need to be? How does a restaurant account for the inevitable variables of made-to-order … Continue Reading

The Billable Hour

A little off topic – I’ve been asked to speak at an upcoming CLE program at Seattle University Law School entitled "The Billable Hour: An Examination of Compensation."  For those responsible for legal budgets (whether an in-house lawyer managing a budget or an outside lawyer like myself who is working within a budget), this promises to be … Continue Reading

Anatomy of a Food-Borne Illness Claim – Part I

Recently, I’ve received several requests for resources explaining the anatomy of a food-borne illness claim. In other words, what events can be expected, and when? What can or should a company (in particular the legal department) do in response to a claim? Part I – Notice of an Outbreak (and Possible Claims)   First off, don’t … Continue Reading

“Canada is Next”

Anyone interested in trends in cross-border mass-torts litigation and the nightmare this is becoming should read a recent article in Bloomberg Law Reports entitled "Brave New World: The Dawn of Hyper-Complex Litigation" In the article, appears the following: "The Canadian Double-Down" "At a January 2008 products liability symposium, a well-regarded New York City plaintiffs’ attorney … Continue Reading

Good Time To Review Crisis Management Plans

Incredibly, the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak remains unsolved. First reported onset of illness date was April 10, yet the traceback is still not complete. Personal injury and economic damage claims await for the FDA and CDC to determine causation. Produce industry, particularly in Mexico, stands to suffer long lasting injury.  Whether or not your business stands … Continue Reading

“Shotgun Questionnaire”–An Important Tool in Food Liability Defense

Food-borne illness cases generally involve strict liability. If a plaintiff can show illness and a causational link between the illness and adulterated food produced by the defendant, the defendant generally will be liable for damages proven by the plaintiff. In defense of first-party injured-plaintiff claims, negligence and the standard of care employed by the defendant … Continue Reading

Importance of Experts At Outset of Outbreak

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation at a CLE seminar about how to use and challenge expert witnesses in a food case. One of the interesting discussions that occurred during my talk was about the importance of retention of experts at an early stage, even before health department officials finalize their findings. Given … Continue Reading
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