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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Colorado Family Files First Cantaloupe Listeria Lawsuit

The wife of a man hospitalized after consuming contaminated cantaloupe filed suit today in El Paso County District Court.  The lawsuit names Jensen Farms Inc. and Wal-Mart as defendants.  The plaintiffs, Charles and Tammy Palmer, are represented by national foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark.

According to the complaint, Charles Palmer consumed the Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in mid-August.  He had purchased one whole cantaloupe at the Wal-Mart store located on Razorback Road in Colorado Springs several days before.  He fell ill with symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria infection, including headache and fatigue, on August 30. The next morning, Mr. Palmer’s wife found him unresponsive and immediately rushed her husband to the hospital, where he has remained ever since.  He has tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, the strain of Listeria involved in the cantaloupe outbreak. . 

“Wal-Mart, Jensen Farms, and other food companies have a public responsibility to all consumers to sell and distribute food that is free and clear of dangerous adulterants such as Listeria – no exceptions,” said the Palmer family attorney, William Marler.  “In this case, a lapse in food safety assurance has relegated an innocent man to a hospital bed for a long time.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed that 15 Listeria cases in four states, including one death, have been linked to cantaloupe produced in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.

Outbreak victims are residents of Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas.  On Wednesday, Jensen Farms announced a recall of all its Rocky Ford cantaloupes due to potential Listeria contamination.  New Mexico health officials announced this week that nine additional Listeria cases, including three deaths, are potentially linked to cantaloupe.  The investigation into whether the two Listeria outbreaks are connected is ongoing.

Listeria is a foodborne pathogen that may cause serious illness in those who become infected. Those individuals who are immune-deficient, such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women may be at risk for serious problems such meningitis, brain infection, and even death. Infection in pregnant women may lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.  Unlike other bacteria, Listeria grows well at cool temperatures, so even while refrigerated, many foods such as fruits, vegetables, deli meats, and cheeses maintain higher risk for pathogen growth.

MARLER CLARK is the nation’s leading law firm dedicated solely to representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm’s Listeria attorneys have unmatched experience handling food poisoning cases and recently won a $1.1 million judgment on behalf of the family of a man who died after eating Listeria-contaminated celery.  The firm has recovered over $600,000,000 for victims of foodborne illnesses.  For more information or to view a copy of the complaint, please contact Cody Moore at cmoore@marlerclark.com or 1-206-407-2200.