I read in the paper this morning that Tyson Foods has recalled thousands of pounds of chicken nuggets because they have hard pieces of plastic intermixed with the nuggets. These pieces of plastic are considered "foreign objects." Foreign objects can pose a danger to people that bite into the nuggets (broken or fractured teeth) or health complications if the plastic is swallowed (choking, tears in the esophagus, damaged tissue in the gastrointestinal track). Some of these injuries can result in serious health complications. When those complications occur medical bills can pile up to the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. So who is responsible for paying the medical bills if there is a foreign object in your food? Who is responsible for compensating the injured person for all their harms and losses that resulted from the foreign object in the food? In Oregon both the manufacturer, distributor, and seller may be liable.
Oregon, like other states, has laws that are "products liability" laws to protect consumers. ORS 30.920 is the Oregon Law that basically states a seller of any product in a defective condition, unreasonably dangerous to the consumer, is subject to liability for physical harm to the consumer if the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and the product is expected to and does reach the consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold. This also applies to manufacturers. (See ORS 30.920 (3) and Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 402A Comments a to m (1965). What this means is the company that made and/or sold the food may be liable for the harms and losses they caused.
Oregon also has a law that prevents companies from manufacturing, selling, or delivering any food that is adultrated. ORS 616.215(1). Having something in your food that shouldn't be in your food can be food that is adulterated (i.e. altered). As a result, manufacturers and sellers of food may be liable to the injured person for breaking this law.
Other theories that may allow the injured person to hold the wrongdoers accountable are typically: Negligence and Breach of Implied Warranties, and maybe some consumer protection statutes depending on the facts. The bottom line is if you are injured by a foreign object in your food then the seller and manufacturer may be liable.
If you, or someone you know, is injured by a foreign object in food, then please call me at 503.224.1658. Ross Law LLC is always happy to provide free personal injury consultations. I also typically work on a contingency fee in these cases, so I will only be paid if you receive compensation. Please remember the laws are constantly changing and this web-site, blog, or post should not be considered legal advice and could be considered Attorney Advertising. Please consult with a lawyer if you have any questions about an injury you suffered and who may be liable for your injures. Do not simply rely on this post.