Illness and Injury at a Wedding Reception: Who is Responsible?

With all the stress that a wedding can bring along with its joy, the last thing any newlywed couple wants is to hire a catering service that causes more than half of its guests to get violently sick with food poisoning. That is exactly what happened, however, in 2015 at a New York couple’s wedding reception. When the caterer was later investigated, they were found to have engaged in multiple food safety faux pas, including refusal to take food temperatures prior to serving it to the guests and refusal to provide samples of the food served to investigators in a timely manner. Investigators declared that the platter of macaroni and cheese—a favorite among the children in attendance at the reception, many of whom became very ill—was a prime breeding ground for a staph infection. The couple is seeking damages in hopes of reimbursing their guests for the injuries they endured while attending the reception.

Catering is a product liability issue

Because catered food is a product, illness caused by a caterer’s negligence is a matter of product liability. Although the person who chooses and hires the catering service may technically be “in charge,” caterers are bound by law to uphold food safety practices. These practices involve safe food handling (i.e., use of gloves while preparing food, preparing food in a sanitary environment) and food serving (i.e., ensuring food temperature is safe for consumption). When a catering service fails in one or both of these regards, they may be held liable for illness or injury resulting from people eating the food they serve.

Certain injuries or illnesses may be a premises liability issue

On the other hand, some illnesses or injuries while at a reception-style party may be a matter of premises liability. For example, if a party venue does not provide sanitary sinks and water taps for guests to wash their hands with or if the toilet facilities are unsanitary, these situations could be considered health hazards and could mean that the venue’s owner or operator is liable for any health problems that arise as a result of his or her negligence. Similarly, injuries from poorly maintained flooring or venue-provided furniture could also be a premises liability issue. Slip-and-fall accidents resulting from wet floors—especially when there is no sign warning of the condition of those floors—can also be matters of venue-operator liability.

Get the legal help you need

Have you become seriously ill as a result of caterer or venue-operator negligence? It can be difficult to know who to turn to for help when the day that is supposed to be the happiest day of your life turns into a disaster. Contact the Compass Law Group, LLP to speak with a Los Angeles product liability attorney. The lawyers at Compass Law Group, LLP are specialists in product and premises liability law, and will fight to get you the compensation you are entitled to as a victim.


Find out if you have a case in a few minutes, call us at (310) 289-7126

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