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A Case of Food Poisoning at Circus Circus

Resorts along the Las Vegas Strip are beginning to reopen after the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown. One challenge for them is ensuring guest safety while dining at their restaurants. Restaurants are especially prone to spreading viruses and bacteria. Now may be the time to revisit a Nevada Supreme Court case from 1985. Itโ€™s about a young boy who got sick eating at a resort restaurant, Wilson v. Circus Circus.

From the Circus to the Hospital

In the fall of 1980 the Wilson family of Texas stayed for a few days at the Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas. Upon their arrival, they ate lunch at the Pink Pony Restaurant located inside the hotel. Brad Wilson, 2 and a half years old, ate fish with tartar sauce packets off the childrenโ€™s menu. Later for dinner, his parents made him a bologna sandwich. For the duration of their stay at Circus Circus, the Wilsons dined at its restaurants.

The third day of their vacation was halted when Brad got sick with a fever, diarrhea, and stomach pains. The Wilsonโ€™s ended their stay in Las Vegas at Sunrise Hospital. Doctors diagnosed Brad with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis brought on by salmonella bacteria. The Wilsons suspected the hotelโ€™s tartar sauce was to blame.

Did the Wilsonโ€™s Have Enough Evidence of Fault?

As expected, Circus Circus disputed the origin of Bradโ€™s food poisoning. It suggested the bologna sandwich was as likely the culprit, since it was consumed in time for the salmonella to develop. Direct evidence is usually not available in food poisoning cases, because the tainted food is likely completely eaten. Therefore, these cases depend on circumstantial evidence. The trial court granted Circus Circusโ€™s request to have the case dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.

The Wilsons appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. Their lawyer agreed they could only offer circumstantial evidence. However, their circumstantial evidence tended to prove that a tartar sauce packet was a more likely origin of salmonella than the bologna sandwich.

Bradโ€™s young sister also ate bologna from the same packaging for dinner as Brad did. But she did not get sick. That left unrefrigerated tartar sauce as the more likely cause. The Nevada Supreme Court believed a jury should be allowed to make that inference. The Wilsons were allowed to continue Bradโ€™s case.

Building the Case You Deserve

At Sam & Ash, we have a lot of experience with personal injury cases. Some of our clients have been harmed by the negligence of companies with more power and resources than they have. Balancing that power is whatโ€™s right. We level the field with our mastery of the law and investigation so the evidence tells your side of the story. We are available 24/7 to start your case. Call us to get the representation you deserve at 702-820-1234.

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