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Food Poisoning and Possible Legal Recompense

There is a reunion or a wedding reception or another party at a hotel ballroom. The room is resplendent in opulence and old friends are renewing acquaintances. Dinner is announced and everyone sits down for a feast. After a wonderful evening, the attendees return home with wonderful memories. But after a day or two, the attendees start to have symptoms of abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. The doctor diagnoses it as norovirus.

Currently around the country norovirus is making people ill. Norovirus is highly contagious and commonly acquired through contaminated food or water. But it can also be “acquire[d] through close contact with an infected person.” Larger norovirus outbreaks are traced back to food preparation. Food poisoning is always a possibility whenever one goes out to dine. On May 1, 2013, Newsday reported that a hotel in Westchester County is being industrially cleaned top to bottom, overseen by the local health department, after 300 people complained of illnesses after attending events there. Norovisus is the confirmed cause of all the illnesses. How the virus came to be in the hotel has not been determined. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report in January that a new strain of norovirus called GII.4 Sydney is causing most of the current outbreaks and is highly contagious.

Getting sick is always a pain, but losing workdays and paying out for doctor’s visits can cost. While norovirus symptoms will last for a few days, some people may become severely dehydrated and need medical attention. So now lost revenues from missing workdays, doctors visit copayments, and hospital costs add up. Is there a way to recoup your loses?

It is possible to file a lawsuit for food poisoning. Suing over a few days of living in one’s bathroom would not be worth the cost. But hospital costs are another expense all together. Proving that a particular food or place caused an illness can be difficult. In the hotel scenario, it would be easy to track the illness back to the hotel because of the number of people infected. Professional food preparers are required to serve untainted food.

Now you have proof of the specific virus, but whom do you sue? The hotel? What if the hotel hired caterers? Your attorney will make this decision. And if others were made ill in the same incident, then it may be more prudent to file a class action lawsuit with the other attendees. Your attorney will review current cases to see if one has already been filed.

How do you protect yourself and prevent the further spread of nonovirus? The CDC recommends washing hands with plain or antiseptic soap and scrub not only the palms, but also the backs, between fingers and under nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends humming Happy Birthday twice while scrubbing and rinsing under running water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used after hand washing, but they are not recommended to be used alone.

If you have contracted norovirus or other contagious illness from a professional food preparer and lost significant work days and amassed high medical bills, you might want to consult our NYC personal injury attorney about possibly recouping your loses.