Skip to main content

Can I sue after an allergic reaction at a restaurant?

Silver Spring, MD |

Yesterday, I was in a restaurant. I ordered a meal that contained a plain sweet potato side. When I got it, the sweet potato had gravy on it. The menu did not say anything about a gravy. My friend and I called the waiter over to identify the gravy. He told me it was brown sugar and graham crackers. I was not convinced, so we asked another waiter. He said the gravy had walnuts/pecans. Mind you, I have a severe tree nut allergy. It all happened literally within a span of 2 minutes; I may have unwittingly contaminated the rest of the meal with the fork I had used to examine the gravy before I knew what it was. I got through some of the meal before the start of itchy lymph nodes in my neck. I got sick, not to the point of hospitalization. Should I just leave it alone?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Hard to say, but one question, did the menu have any type of warning saying that products may contain peanut or nut products. I am aware of peanut allergy warnings on menus, and also warnings about MSG ,but haven't come across warnings about tree nuts.

    DISCLAIMER: This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not legal advice unless you have entered into a fee agreement with the Law Office of Anthony J. Van Zwaren, P.C. and have paid the required fees. The information contained in this email may be privileged. Dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail or the information contained within it by anyone other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this message and any attachments from your system and notify us.


  2. Leave it alone, but do take a few minutes to write the restaurant a letter so they may hopefully take measures to make sure it doesn't happen again.


  3. Glad to hear that you did not suffer a severe allergic reaction. Given the different responses you received from the wait staff, you should definitely contact the manager about the incident, stressing the fact that they dodged a bullet in your case and it would not be an incident that should be repeated. Letters can be easily ignored, so I would suggest going back to the restaurant late in the afternoon (end of the lunch rush and before dinner) and speak with the manager in person. Stress what occurred, the fact that you do not want to sue but their procedures/menu need to be corrected to avoid any future injuries/deaths.

    Be prepared for the manager to ask what you want, and respond that they have to be careful with using all nuts and advising all wait staff about the ingredients, and a free meal since your last one was ruined (assuming you like the food).

    Good luck.