Couple Awarded 6.7 Million for Oysters Leading to Guillain-Barré Syndrome?!

Playing Man Paralyzed by Eating Oysters?

A romantic night on the town left a couple ill with food poisoning, yet that was not the end of the story. The couple sued the restaurant and was awarded 6.7 million dollars claiming the infection from the food poisoning resulted in the husband contracting Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an ascending paralysis that most commonly happens after GI or respiratory illness.

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The Doctors Court weigh in on if the couple’s big payout was rightly awarded. Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon explains the type of organism you are most likely to find in shellfish is not one that typically triggers Guillain-Barré Syndrome. 

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork notes the timeline does support the idea the food poisoning was at fault. He says it is usually a few weeks after a GI or respiratory illness that someone might start to develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome. He doesn’t agree, however, with the 6.7 million verdict, saying that food poisoning happens all the time and by eating out you are assuming that risk.

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra elaborates on what Dr. Ordon mentioned, saying that the organism associated with raw oysters called vibrio is not bacteria commonly associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The man had also eaten other meat sources, including lamb, which contains campylobacter, a bacteria more commonly associated with the disease.

Is it foreseeable? That is the question, meaning, does the argument standup that the Guillain-Barré was caused by the food poisoning and the restaurant is therefore responsible for it. Dr. Travis says this sets a scary precedent since we don’t know why one person’s body will attack itself when 99.9% of other people’s bodies won’t. He worries that assuming cause and effect will result in people being fearful of ever going out to eat!

Dr. Batra explains the couple was initially offered a $20,000 settlement but with $300,000 in medical bills they litigated it out. Even though the restaurant’s insurance limit was 1 million, they would not budge, so there was a punitive element of the 6.7 million, to send a message. 

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Dr. Travis notes that Guillain-Barré syndrome is not common but the signs to look out for are a developed numbness and weakness, especially in the legs, particularly if it occurs a few weeks after having an infection. 

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