Food giant Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. is facing yet another lawsuit stemming from an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg traced to the company’s ground turkey products earlier this summer. The lawsuit was brought by Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, on behalf of Missouri residents Susanne and Jerry Byerly. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court in Missouri.
According to the complaint, Susanne Byerly is one of 111 people in 31 states who became ill with Salmonella Heidelberg infections after consuming Cargill ground turkey between February 20 and August 2, 2011. The lawsuit alleges that Cargill was aware that Salmonella Heidelberg had been detected at its Springdale, Arkansas plant “as far back as 2010, if not as early as 2007” and that the company “failed to alert consumers of the potential danger, issue a recall of products that it knew to be contaminated, or reasonably act to prevent consumers of its products from becoming infected and sickened by Salmonella Heidelberg.”
“We are asking the Court to award punitive damages in this case because Cargill failed to act on the knowledge that its products were contaminated,” said attorney Bill Marler, who has litigated several prior food contamination cases against the company. “Obviously, lawsuits alone are not enough to get Cargill to produce a safe product. It’s time FSIS declared Salmonella an adulterant in ground meat products and made companies issue recalls of product that tests positive for this contaminant.” (Download Complaint PDF)