New Jersey Products Liability Legal Article: Is Food a Product Under the New Jersey Products Liability Act?
The problem of injuries from food is common, especially since food allergies are on the rise, our food products are produced abroad, and since bacteria contamination such as e coli or salmonella is common.
In many instances of food allergy reactions, the results are catastrophic. Within minutes, a food allergy sufferer may succumb to contact with an allergenic food.
In instances of contamination, the young or elderly tend to suffer the most serious injuries. Deaths are not uncommon. Proper labeling and food production and handling are crucial to prevent these types of situations.
Under New Jersey law, food products are considered "products" under the New Jersey Products Liability Act (PLA). See McGuinness v. Wakefern Corp., a 1991 N.J. Superior Court case (grocery store liability for salmonella poisoning); N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-5(c) (barring an award of punitive damages for defective food/additive since it was subject to premarket approval by the FDA).
The PLA can be found at N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1 to -11, which provides in relevant part:
A manufacturer or seller of a product shall be liable in a product liability action only if the claimant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the product causing the harm was not reasonably fit, suitable or safe for its intended purpose because it: a. deviated from the design specifications, formulae, or performance standards of the manufacturer or from otherwise identical units manufactured to the same manufacturing specifications or formulae, or b. failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions, or c. was designed in a defective manner.
Under New Jersey law, there are three types of products liability cases: manufacturing defects, defective designs or failure to warn. In food borne illness and injury cases, the more common types of product liability claims are for manufacturing defect (food contamination during manufacture) or failure to warn (food allergen mislabeling). In addition, there may be a breach of express warranty claim.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a food product in the New Jersey or Pennsylvania areas, call our personal injury and product liability lawyers. Our firm spares no expense in the investigation and prosecution of these cases. Our lawyers will provide answers to all of your questions and advise you on how to proceed. 877.944.8396