If I ate at a fast food restaurant that cooked their chicken in the same grease as their shellfish and had an allergic reaction, can I sue the restaurant?

I had to go to the hospital.

Asked on September 30, 2014 under Personal Injury, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You would not have a cause of action unless you had specifically told the restaurant that you were allergic to shellfish, asked whether they cooked their chicken in any way together with the shellfish, and they'd told they did not, and, based on what they said, you ordered the shellfish and were  sickened. Otherwise, they did nothing wrong: it is not uncommon for one food to be cooked using the same grease, gravy, sauce, etc. as another, and unless the restaurant is aware that a patron has an allergy, they do nothing unreasonable--and so nothing negligent--by doing what is common and cooking foods together.

Furthermore, even IF they were liable, you cold only sue to recover (1) actual out-of-pocket (not paid by insurance) medical costs, (2) lost wages, if any, and (3) "pain and suffering" if you incurred significant, long-lasting life impairment; that is because you can only recover for actual, not theoretical, injury. If you did not incur significant costs or suffer a significant impairment, then if the restaurant were liable, it would not be worth suing, because you'd spend more on the lawsuit than you could recover.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.