There’s a lot of trust involved with eating out. When we take a bite, we are trusting that the food is going to be reasonably safe to eat. Sometimes our trust is betrayed. Take, for example, Calla Felicity. Ms. Felicity, age 59, swallowed a 1.2-inch chicken bone while eating a barbecue chicken pizza at a Round Table Pizza in early 2010.
The bone became lodged in her throat, and its sharp sides pierced her esophagus in two places. The injury nearly killed her and required more than a month in the hospital as well as 11 surgeries to repair. She spent months on feeding tubes and liquid diets.
She brought a lawsuit against Foster Poultry Farms, the company that supplies chicken to restaurants, and Pizza Bytes, the franchise that owns the Pizza Table in South San Francisco where she was injured.
In the course of an 11-day jury trial, evidence was presented showing there had been 206 customer complaints about bones in Foster Farms chicken strips between 2005 and 2010. Many of the complaints involved children choking and some involved Round Table pizzas. The jury concluded that Foster Farms was negligent for leaving bone splinters in its chicken tenders.
The jury found Foster Farms 60 percent to blame and Round Table’s franchisee, Pizza Bytes, 40 percent at fault. Calla Felicity was awarded $500,000 to cover her medical bills and $2 million for her pain and suffering. Apparently, Foster Farms, a large poultry producer, had never made an offer to even cover Felicity’s medical expenses!
Unfortunately, it often takes a lawsuit and a jury trial to set things right. This jury verdict should teach other companies to be more careful when preparing our food.
It takes considerable resources to successfully pursue a claim against a major food producer or a large franchise restaurant. For example, it took an expensive 11-day jury trial—more than 2 years after her injury—before a jury verdict in the Felicity case. Of course, the businesses in that case may challenge the verdict in a court of appeals, resulting in more litigation, expense and delay.
At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.
If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed and you feel a restaurant or food producer may be responsible, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.