Can I suea restaurantfor not properly labeling food?

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2011

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Can I suea restaurantfor not properly labeling food?

I was eating at my chain restaurant when I got what I thought was popcorn chicken. I am severely allergic to shrimp. The “popcorn chicken” as it turned out was actually popcorn shrimp. I have eaten 4 pieces with my fired chicken thinking it was chicken but when i went to eat a piece by itself I discovered I had not been eating chicken – I had been eating shrimp. Paramedics had to be called and I had to be rushed to the nearest ER. Should I speak witha  personal injury attorney? In Livingston Parish, LA.

Asked on August 19, 2011 Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are two components to whether you can--and should-sue.

The first is liability, or legal obligation/responsibility to pay. This is based on fault, which depends typically on either an intentional bad act or negligence (unreasoanble carelessness). Since an allergy to shrimp is not an uncommon one, mislabeling shrimp as chicken is very likely unreasonably careless, since it exposes dinner to unnecessary danger and yet is easily correctable. Therefore, there may be liability.

The second issue is damages; the American legal system, except in special cases usually involving deliberate bad acts, only provides compensation for actual injury and out-of-pocket costs. If you did not have extensive medical costs and recovered within a day or three, and did not miss much work, then it is unlikely your damages, or the amount of money you could receive, would be sufficient to justify the cost of a lawsuit. You may wish instead to contact the central office, let them know what happened and that you are contemplating a lawsuit, and see if they offer you any compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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