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Tampa, FL Skyline; image courtesy of LoneStarMike via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Food poisoning isn’t fun for anyone, especially if it results in lifelong issues and disabilities such as what happened to a man in Tampa back in 2013. In 2013, Angel Martinez and his wife Maria visited Lobster Haven Seafood Market and Shanty in Tampa, Florida and dined on a meal of seafood. Unfortunately for the couple, the raw oysters and lobsters were allegedly contaminated, causing them to suffer from gastroenteritis later that evening. While “Mrs. Martinez was sick for a few days, Mr. Martinez’s illness lasted more than a week.”

Things didn’t get better for Mr. Martinez, though. According to the lawsuit the couple eventually filed against the Tampa seafood restaurant, “as Mr. Martinez recovered from his food poisoning, his immune system was quietly chewing into the myelin sheath that protects the nerves of the body’s peripheral nervous system.”

As weeks and months went by, Mr. Martinez eventually experienced trouble standing and sought out medical attention at Pasco Regional Medical Center. Eventually, he was transferred to “Tampa General Hospital where he would remain for the next 43 days,” according to court documents. While a patient, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), “a rare condition that can develop following a severe infection.” In short, “GBS is an autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system attacks the nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system.” When this happens, cramping, muscle weakness, and even paralysis can occur.

Image of a plate of oysters
Plate of oysters; image courtesy of Sweet Ice Cream Photography via Unsplash, https://unsplash.com

Fortunately, Mr. Martinez was eventually able to teach himself how to walk again and he even regained proper motor functions with perseverance and a bit of hard work on his part. Despite his progress, though, he still suffers from severe permanent nerve damage throughout his body, changing his life forever.”

Mr. and Mrs. Martinez were represented by attorneys Brandon Cathey, Brent Steinberg and Daniel Greene of Swope, Rodante P.A. Who argued throughout the proceedings that the contaminated seafood was “a legal cause of Mr. Martinez’s permanent nerve damage.”

How did the defendants react to the case, though? For starters, attorneys Dan Shapiro and Christopher  of Cole, Scott & Kissane P.A., argued that “while the seafood from Lobster Haven did cause the plaintiffs’ food poisoning, it was not the cause of Mr. Martinez’s subsequent GBS.”

Despite the arguments from the defense, a three-day jury trial resulted in a jury returning a verdict in “favor of the Martinez’s totaling $6.7 million, $6.3 million of which was non-economic damages.”

Sources:

6.7 Million Dollar Jury Verdict in Food Poisoning Case

Oysters suspected as jury awards couple $6.7 million in Tampa food poisoning

 

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