Restaurants tend not to see themselves as a “manufacturer” of the food they serve – especially, when one of the ingredients – like lettuce the received from a supplier, is contaminated with a pathogen – like E. coli.
But, the law treats the restaurant that makes an E. coli-tainted salad the same as a manufacturer of a car that has a defective part that causes the car to explode on the highway. The definition of a “manufacturer” is broad:
Why does it matter? As a manufacturer, the restaurant is “strictly liable” to the customer due to the defective (E. coli tainted) product (the salad). Once the customer proves the salad was defective and caused harm, the case is essentially over.
That is just what a New Jersey court ruled last week – the restaurant that made a take out chicken Caesar salad is a manufacturer and therefore strictly liable to the customer for any injuries caused by the consumption of the product – the chicken Caesar salad that contained E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce.
Here is the full order: