Tomorrow, we will file lawsuits on behalf of two families caught up in the cantaloupe listeria outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, of Holly, Colorado.  To date, the CDC counts 35 illnesses and 4 deaths in the outbreak, but these numbers are surely too few.  Colorado media outlets today reported that one of its residents, Shelly Occhipinti-Krout, a 48-year-old mother of three, died at Parker Adventist Hospital Tuesday about three weeks after she became ill. 

The following are short descriptions of our Texas Listeria Lawsuit and Colorado Listeria Lawsuit:

Texas Listeria Lawsuit

In early August 2011, Ceaser Gomez purchased cantaloupe that had been grown, sold, and distributed by Jensen Farms. Mr. Gomez purchased the cantaloupe which, at the time of purchase, was contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes, at either an HEB or Kroger store in Angleton, Texas.

In the days following Mr. Gomez’s cantaloupe purchase described in the foregoing paragraph, his wife Juanita Gomez consumed some of the cantaloupe.  In the late evening hours of August 19, 2011, or the early morning of August 20, 2011, Juanita became ill and developed a fever. Her symptoms progressed and, later in the morning of August 20, Ceaser rushed his wife to the emergency department at Angleton Danburry Medical Center. At the time of her arrival, Mrs. Gomez’s temperature was 105.6 degrees Fahrenheit, her eyes were glassy, she was shaking badly, and she was unable to respond to her family’s simple questions.

After receiving treatment at the Angleton Danburry Medical Center’s emergency department, Mrs. Gomez was discharged home with continuing, though lesser, fever, and persistent nausea and diarrhea.

In the evening of the following day, August 21, personnel at the emergency department called the Gomez household to say that Mrs. Gomez should return immediately to the emergency department for care. Blood tests performed on samples given during her stay in the emergency department the day before showed that she was suffering from a Listeria infection.

The same evening, Mr. and Mrs. Gomez returned to the emergency department at Angleton Danburry Medical Center, where Mrs. Gomez was admitted to the hospital during the early morning hours of August 22, 2011. She remained hospitalized for treatment through August 24, 2011.

After discharge from the hospital, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gomez, Rosa Gomez, spoke on her parents’ behalf to officials with the Brazoria County Health Department, who inquired about the plaintiff’s food history. Health Department officials later confirmed that Mrs. Gomez had been infected by the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes involved in the defendant’s cantaloupe outbreak.

Colorado Listeria Lawsuit

In early-August 2011, Herbert and Elaine Stevens purchased ½ of a cantaloupe wrapped in plastic from a King Sooper’s location in Littleton, Colorado. The cantaloupe had been manufactured, distributed, and sold by Jensen Farms. In the several days following this purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens both consumed some of the cantaloupe.

Mr. Stevens, who is 84 years old, fell ill on August 24, 2011. That afternoon, his temperature spiked to almost 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and he was badly nauseated. Later in the day, he was unable to rise from the toilet in the bathroom, prompting Mrs. Stevens to call 911. An ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and transported Mr. Stevens to Littleton Adventist Hospital.

At Littleton Adventist Hospital, Mr. Stevens was quickly put on antibiotic therapy. Blood tests soon revealed that he had become infected by Listeria monocytogenes. Mrs. Stevens was soon contacted by Tri-County health officials, who inquired about Mr. Stevens’s food history, and ultimately informed her that Mr. Stevens had tested positive for the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes involved in the Jensen Farms cantaloupe listeria outbreak.

Mr. Stevens has not returned home since the date of his admission to Littleton Adventist Hospital. For a time, he was treated at the Life Care Center of Littleton, but had to be transferred back to Littleton Adventist Hospital due to a worsening of his condition. On or about September 19, 2011, Mr. Stevens was transferred to the Johnson Center, a skilled nursing facility, for purposes of rehabilitation. It is not known whether Mr. Stevens, who was formerly independent in his activities of daily living, will be able to return home.