A former executive of a peanut company was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in distributing tainted peanut butter back in 2008 and 2009 that made dozens of people seriously ill and killed several others. According to one industry news source reporting on the criminal case, this marked the first time that an executive was prosecuted criminally in a food poisoning case.
Evidently, the prosecution submitted evidence that the executive signed off on shipments of peanut butter that he knew to be tainted. He also submitted fraudulent lab tests, claiming that the product had been tested for salmonella. When investigators conducted an inspection of the facility, they discovered leaking roofs, cockroaches, and evidence of a rodent infestation.
Establishing Civil Liability After a Criminal Prosecution
While the case discussed above was a criminal prosecution, it may have laid the groundwork for the families who were affected by the tainted peanut butter to seek financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. Manufacturers of all products, including food, assume a duty to ensure that the products they sell are reasonably safe. When a product causes an injury to a customer, or tainted food is consumed and results in an illness, the manufacturer may be held liable.
Of course, not every time a product makes someone sick will the manufacturer be held responsible for the injuries. However, when an injured party can show that there was a conscious disregard of a known risk, liability may be appropriate. Evidence of a company’s knowledge can be hard to obtain, but an experienced attorney will know what to investigate during the discovery process of the lawsuit.
How Discovery Can Help a Plaintiff’s Case
The discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit is when evidence and documents are exchanged between the parties. While the laws governing discovery are exceedingly complex, in general, each party must provide the opposing party with any evidence that it plans to use in its case, as well as any evidence that “is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” If a company fails to comply with a discovery request, a court may issue sanctions against the company, including deciding the case against the company’s interests.
Have You Been a Victim of Contaminated Food?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of food poisoning or another food-borne illness, you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer of the contaminated food. Product liability cases based on contaminated food can be difficult to prove because it is often hard for plaintiffs to prove that their symptoms were caused by the ingestion of the tainted product. However, with the assistance of a dedicated personal injury attorney, you can be comfortable that the court will have a chance to view all of the relevant and favorable evidence in the case. Call the Maryland and Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC at 410-654-3600 to discuss your case free of charge.
More Blog Posts:
Continuing Course of Treatment Doctrine May Extend Statute of Limitations in Some Maryland and Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice Cases, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 20, 2016
Application of the “Discovery Rule” in Medical Malpractice Cases May Require a Judge or Jury to Determine Exactly When the Statute of Limitations Began to Run, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2016