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From Products Liability Law Daily, July 17, 2018

Contaminated salads prompt products liability suit against McDonald’s

By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.

An Illinois resident filed a products liability suit in Illinois state court against McDonald’s Corporation, alleging that manufacturing and marketing defects in salads sold in numerous restaurants across the Midwest were the cause of her cyclospora poisoning. The complaint asserted strict liability, negligence, negligence per se, and breach of implied warranty claims. The consumer estimates her damages to be in excess of $50,000 (Smith v. McDonald’s Corp., July 16, 2018).

On numerous occasions during May and June of 2018, the consumer purchased McDonald’s salads at her local McDonald’s. On or about June 5, 2018, she began experiencing various gastrointestinal ailments, including cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. Over several days, the symptoms grew to include fever, vomiting, and dehydration, which resulted in the consumer seeking medical attention and a diagnosis of a stomach virus. When her condition failed to improve, she sought further medical treatment and was eventually diagnosed with cyclospora poisoning. Cyclospora is a parasite that causes an intestinal infection. Cyclospora is spread when food or water contaminated with feces is ingested. If untreated, the illness often lasts for months. On July 13, 2018, the link between the McDonald’s salads and the cyclospora outbreak was made public and McDonald’s pulled the salads from the affected stores.

Allegations. The consumer’s strict products liability, negligence, and negligence per se claims are based on allegations that the salads sold by McDonald’s were contaminated when they left the company’s possession and control and the contamination rendered them unreasonably dangerous for their intended purpose—human consumption. The complaint further alleged that McDonald’s owed a duty of reasonable care to consumers to provide food that was safe for consumption and in compliance with all applicable health regulations, and that McDonald’s breached that duty when it sold salads contaminated with cyclospora. Finally, the consumer contended that the company’s failure to provide unadulterated products and/or warn consumers of potentially hazardous conditions with respect to the products was a direct, proximate, and producing cause of her injuries and damages.

The complaint also stated a count for breach of implied warranty of merchantability based on McDonald’s having held out unreasonably dangerous products to the public as being safe when it knew or had reason to know that the products were not safe and that the public would consume them.

Relief sought. The consumer’s complaint seeks a jury trial and damages for past and future economic and non-economic losses, court costs, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate allowed by law, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Attorneys: Peter J. Flowers (Meyers & Flowers LLC) for Jennifer Smith.

Companies: McDonald’s Corp.

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