81-year-old California Woman’s Death Linked to Multi-State Listeria Outbreak that has Sickened 29 and Killed Five
Attorney Bill Marler of Seattle’s Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Safeway Inc., in the Superior Court of Santa Cruz on behalf of James Raymond Frey, 87, and the estate of his deceased wife, Shirlee Jean Frey, 81, who died tragically on December 2, 2014 after consuming a Listeria-tainted caramel apple purchased at the Safeway in Felton, California. The case number is CISCV180721. Local co-counsel is Harry Stern of Rains Lucia Stern in San Francisco.
The events leading up to Mrs. Frey’s death began just before Halloween 2014, when she went to the Safeway store in Felton, California, and purchased, among other things, a commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apple. Shortly after consuming the caramel apple later in the week, Mrs. Frey suddenly began to feel ill.
On November 6, due to weakness and instability related to her illness, Mrs. Frey fell and hit her head. She was rushed to the emergency room, where the decision was made to airlift Mrs. Frey to Stanford Hospital for surgery on what was thought to be a brain-bleed. On November 14th, after the surgery, Mrs. Frey was deemed well enough to be discharged and admitted for rehabilitative care. She appeared to be improving over the next ten days, however, her condition soon started to deteriorate.
On Thanksgiving Day, Mrs. Frey could not be awakened and was immediately readmitted to care at Stanford Hospital. On December 2, the doctors at Stanford Hospital informed the family that Mrs. Frey was suffering from a listeria infection—listeriosis (later confirmed by health department investigators). Already shocked and devastated, the family was informed later that day that Mrs. Frey had died as a result of the infection.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the Frey family,” said Marler. “Listeria is a brutal illness, but it is completely preventable. It is sickening and shocking when outbreaks like this one occur as it means the most basic precautions were not taken.”
As of December 18, 2014, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that a total of 29 people, in ten states, have been infected with a genetically indistinguishable strain of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (3). At least 26 of the 29 infected individuals had been hospitalized. Among those 26 people hospitalized, five deaths have been reported, including that of Mrs. Frey.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1,000 cases result in death.
About Marler Clark
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.