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New Hampshire Court Discusses Restaurant’s Liability Following Case of Food Poisoning in Product Liability Case

July 26, 2019

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire personal injury case giving the court the opportunity to discuss product liability law as it pertained to the plaintiff’s claim that he contracted salmonella at the defendant restaurant. Ultimately, the court affirmed the jury’s $750,000 verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff contracted a case of salmonella shortly after consuming a hamburger while dining at the defendant restaurant. The plaintiff filed a New Hampshire personal injury case against the restaurant, claiming that it was liable for his injuries under the theory of strict product liability.

In its defense, the restaurant made several arguments, mostly focused on attacking the plaintiff’s theory of causation. For example, the restaurant pointed out that another person in the plaintiff’s party also ate a hamburger and that the plaintiff owned a pet lizard which could have been the source of the salmonella. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff ate other meals in between the meal at the defendant’s restaurant, and when he contracted salmonella.

In support of his claim, the plaintiff presented an expert witness to assist the jury in understanding the issues involved in the case. The expert took all facts into account and came to the opinion that hamburger was likely the source of the plaintiff’s food poisoning. The court admitted the expert’s opinion, and the jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.

On appeal, the defendant raised several issues, including the admissibility of the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony. However, the court affirmed the lower court’s determination that the expert was qualified to testify and that his testimony was admissible. The court explained that, in a New Hampshire personal injury case, the court acts as a “gatekeeper” to ensure that an expert uses a reliable methodology to come to their conclusion. However, the credibility of an expert and the amount of weight to afford his testimony is for the jury to determine.

Here, the court held that the expert’s testimony was based on a reliable methodology after the expert considered the most important facts of the case. That being the case, the court explained that the expert’s testimony met the threshold requirement and it was up to the jury to accept or reject the expert’s testimony. Absent an error, the court reasoned that it was not the court’s role to interfere with the jury’s determination. Thus, the court rejected the defendant’s arguments on appeal and affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Have You Contracted Food Poisoning from a New Hampshire Restaurant?

If you or a loved one has recently developed a serious case of food poisoning, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Hampshire product liability lawsuit. At the Concord personal injury law offices of Peter Thompson & Associates, we represent injury victims in all types of claims, including food poisoning claims, car accident cases, and New Hampshire wrongful death cases. To learn more about how we can help you and your family pursue a claim for compensation, call 800-804-2004 to schedule a free consultation today.