Peanuts, seafood, gluten – they are all foods that have attracted heightened awareness in recent years among restaurant owners for causing allergic reactions and health sensitivities. And when serious injuries result, what follows is often a lawsuit. But in a recent article, The Legal Intelligencer concluded that such lawsuits are often difficult for plaintiffs to winFor one thing, waiters now often ask patrons about allergies they may have before they even hand them a menu. That alone makes it tougher to prove that restaurants should have known about a customer's risk for an allergic reaction.

"The food industry has done a better job of warning,” Tom Kline told the legal newspaper in an interview, “it also holds the seller of food to a higher standard." But even if there hasn't been a noticeable increase in lawsuits against restaurants, Kline said greater public consciousness of the prevalence of food allergies makes it more likely that liability may be found if a patron has a reaction. The article also quoted Bill Sullivan, an instructor in the Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management department at the University of Delaware, as noting that waiters are more likely to inform customers of dishes that may contain foods associated with allergies. "The liability comes when you're not honest with people," Sullivan said. For example, if a dish contains peanuts and a waiter doesn’t tell that to a customer who has expressed that he has a peanut allergy, the case against the restaurant is a strong one. One factor that makes food allergy cases difficult is that often there is not a long-term injury. If a customer has a reaction but gets medical treatment and is fine afterward, there generally is no legal case. The article further quoted a food and liquor liability lawyer noting that the responsibility of restaurants to caution customers is largely an issue of state law, so it varies from state to state.

Kline & Specter, with more than 40 attorneys, five of whom are also highly skilled doctors, handles food allergy cases that result in serious injury or death. You can contact a food allergy attorney through this website or by calling 1-800-243-1100.