Regarding food waste, on John Oliver's series "Last Week Tonight" he states:

That's a common misconception. We all think that if someone gets sick you could get sued. I thought that until earlier this week. But we looked into and couldn't find a single case where a food donor has been sued. It doesn't happen.

While this may be a better question for the skeptics, is this a true statement? Is it true that there has never been a single case where a food donor has been sued acting in good faith after the 1996 Emerson Act?


Is it true that there has never been a single case

It is tough to prove a negative. I am not going to completely parse the quote but please notice that the quote states "we couldn't find" and concludes that "it doesn't happen." Given these two pieces of information I do not conclude that there has never been a single case. Rather I conclude that the speaker in your quote could not find a case therefore he concluded that there has never been a single case.

It's largely impossible to determine that there has never been a single such case. We can search published opinions but that barely scratches the surface of lawsuits that are filed. It is entirely possible that someone filed a suit which was quickly dismissed.

The Act provides a defense, it does not bar lawsuits. Someone might get sick from food and not know where the food came from so they sue the provider. If this happens the provider may raise the Emerson Act as a defense and escape liability to the extent applicable. But again, we will never know because it's impossible to examine every lawsuit filed in this country.

  • Fair points. I wasn't sure how to phrase the negative result so that it is answerable on the Stack Exchange formats. I was really hoping that the above would be incorrect and there would be an explicit counter-example. – Hooked Sep 23 '15 at 14:02
  • Proving it is very easy, you just need to provide one case. This is proving a positive (there was such a case), not proving a negative. – Roman Goyenko Feb 5 '19 at 3:55
  • @RomanGoyenko if it’s very easy, please do it. I’m sure OP will appreciate it. – jqning Feb 15 '19 at 4:13
  • @jqning All I am saying is that it is easy to prove if there was any case like that, you just cite the case. I am not implying that there were cases like that. You should also have some case database to search and I don't have that access. – Roman Goyenko Feb 20 '19 at 14:58

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