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Can I Sue a Restaurant for Food Allergies?

Can patrons sue a restaurant over an allergic reaction to its food? In short, the answer is yes. California law mandates that restaurants and other retail food facilities adhere to specific health and sanitation standards. Individuals employed in the food industry are required to complete a training course covering topics such as foodborne illness, food contamination, major food allergens, and symptoms of allergic reactions to ensure food safety.

Restaurants found to disregard these laws may face legal consequences, including misdemeanor charges. They may also face potential lawsuits from customers who have suffered harm or injury, like an allergic reaction, due to the restaurant’s negligence or failure to comply with regulations.

Understanding your rights to sue a restaurant for food allergies provides you with the proper knowledge to pursue legal action if necessary. With the help of a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney or personal injury lawyer, you can fight for the compensation you deserve following a food-related incident at a dining establishment.

When Can Restaurants Be Held Liable?

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Restaurants in California may be held legally responsible for harm or injury caused to their customers under several circumstances, including:


As public premises, restaurants are obligated to exercise reasonable care in preventing harm to their customers. If a customer suffers harm, such as an allergic reaction or foodborne illness, it can lead to wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits. Examples of a restaurant’s negligence include providing inaccurate allergen information or serving contaminated food.

Violation of Health and Safety Regulations

California Health and Safety Code Section 113947 requires restaurant owners and employees to have a food safety certification. They must be informed about safe food handling practices, including major food allergens and potential symptoms of an allergic reaction. Violating these laws can lead to potential legal liability if harm occurs as a result of negligence or non-compliance.

Breach of Duty of Care

Restaurants are expected to uphold a duty of care, meaning they are legally responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of their customers. Whether it is maintaining a hazard-free environment to avoid slip and fall accidents or serving food that is safe for consumption to prevent food poisoning, restaurants can be held liable under California law if they fail to meet these standards.

Failure to Warn

If a customer notifies a waiter of food allergies or dietary restrictions, the restaurant must take reasonable measures to ensure the food provided is safe for them to eat. Failing to provide sufficient warning regarding potential allergens or cross-contamination puts the restaurant at risk of legal consequences.

False Advertising

When a restaurant inaccurately promotes its food products as allergen-free or misleads customers regarding ingredients or nutritional information, it violates consumer trust and can lead to legal consequences. If false advertising results in harm or death to a customer, the restaurant can be held responsible for the damages suffered.

Examples of Lawsuits Filed Against Major Restaurants

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Panera Bread

In a recent case, Panera Bread faced a wrongful death lawsuit in Philadelphia. The lawsuit was filed because a 21-year-old died after drinking a lemonade with caffeine that was improperly labeled. Panera marketed the lemonade as “clean” and “plant-based,” failing to accurately disclose its high caffeine content.

While not directly related to a food allergy, the 21-year-old had a serious health condition that required her to avoid high caffeine levels. Panera’s misleading advertising ultimately resulted in her untimely and devastating death.

As a public restaurant, Panera carries a duty of care to provide safe food and transparency to customers. Restaurants are obligated to provide safe and reasonably prepared food through an accurate disclosure of product information.

Disney World Restaurant

A doctor unexpectedly died in October from an allergic reaction, going into anaphylactic shock after eating at a Disney World restaurant. Following her premature death, the victim’s husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, alleging negligence.

According to the lawsuit, the victim had severe allergies to nuts and dairy, which were communicated to the waiter. Despite assurances from the waiter that the food was “allergen-free,” the victim experienced breathing difficulties later that evening and tragically passed away at the hospital.

Despite being aware of the customer’s severe allergies, the Disney World restaurant negligently failed to take appropriate measures to provide accurate information and ensure the food served was “allergen-free.” The restaurant’s failure to uphold its duty of care directly resulted in harm to its customers.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Wrongful Death Attorney (Los Angeles)

This article examines the complexities surrounding lawsuits filed against restaurants for food allergies or other food-related issues. The two notable wrongful death cases mentioned above underscore the prevalence of such incidents within the restaurant industry.

If you or a loved one is involved in a Los Angeles personal injury or wrongful death case, we recommend contacting our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers to guide you through the legal process. Surviving loved ones may receive financial support to recover funeral expenses, loss of income, and loss of companionship.

John J. Perlstein, one of the best wrongful death attorneys in Los Angeles, CA, has over 25 years of experience securing fair and just outcomes in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He will ensure accurate compensation for victims’ families.

You can reach us at (213) 583-5786. Or, fill out the form on our website to schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. This consultation with our Los Angeles wrongful death law firm will provide you with an opportunity to tell us the details of your case and let us determine how we can help you get the justice you deserve.


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