Serving Raw Oysters . . .

Spitale’s Bar, Inc. operates a restaurant and bar in Amite, Louisiana. Plaintiff, who suffered from non-alcoholic steato hepatitis (“NASH”), ate two raw oysters at Spitale’s and later became ill. Plaintiff was hospitalized on several occasions and ultimately required a liver and kidney transplant.

The Louisiana Sanitary Code requires all establishments that sell or serve raw oysters to display warning signs to alert consumers of the risk associated with the consumption of raw oysters. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (“DHH”) is responsible for inspecting the establishments for compliance with the Sanitary Code. At the time plaintiff ate the raw oysters, there were no warning signs in the restaurant area, nor were there any warnings printed on the menus. The only warning sign was located in the bar area, which was separate from the restaurant where plaintiff was seated.

At the conclusion of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff, finding that DHH breached its duty to enforce the Sanitary Code, and the breach was a cause in fact of plaintiff’s injuries. The jury also found that plaintiff was at fault by consuming the raw oysters. The allocation of fault amongst the parties was as follows: 40% to DHH, 33% to Spitale’s, and 27% to plaintiff. Plaintiff was ultimately awarded the following damages: $350,000 for past medical expenses, $140,000 for past-lost wages, $60,000 for past physical pain and suffering, $35,000 for past mental anguish and emotional distress, and $100,000 for permanent injury. The jury’s verdict was affirmed on appeal.

Travis v. Spitale’s Bar, Inc.