Can I Sue Del Monte and Costco For Salmonella From Cantaloupe?

If you were sickened in the Salmonella outbreak associated with eating Del Monte cantaloupe sold at Costco, you may have a claim against Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. Your attorney will have to make that determination based on the facts of your case. Under some circumstances, retail stores, such as Costco, can be sued for food poisoning. For example, if the grocery store provides samples to customers, the grocery store may be liable if those samples make the people sick.

Food poisoning cases are product liability cases. There are generally three legal theories available to establish liability in a product liability case: strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty. State laws defining strict liability vary. In some states, parties can be “jointly and severally liable,” meaning that once a basic claim of strict liability is proven, many parties may be liable for the entire amount awarded to a victim for compensation. The victim can recover his or her compensation from one or all of the parties. In some states, the victims must seek compensation from the party that possessed the food product at the time of contamination, if that can be proven. Other parties may be sued, but will only be liable to the victims if the primary defendant goes bankrupt or otherwise does not have enough money to pay the victims.

For a Salmonella victim to win a food poisoning lawsuit, his or her attorney must prove that contaminated food was the cause of the Salmonella infection (salmonellosis). This is done with both epidemiological and microbiological evidence. Epidemiological evidence consists of interviews with those sickened to determine if there is a common element that ties the illnesses together. For example, in the Costco cantaloupe Salmonella outbreak, the twelve of the thirteen victims told investigators that they ate cantaloupe in the week before illness. Eleven of these twelve said they ate cantaloupe purchased at eight different Costco locations. Costco membership card records substantiated this. Microbiological evidence involves testing the victims for Salmonella and determining if they have a genetically matching strain of the pathogen. In this outbreak thirteen people in five states were sickened with a genetically identical strain of Salmonella Panama: Oregon (5 cases), Washington (4 cases), California (2 cases), Colorado (1 case) and Maryland (1 case). The epidemiological and microbiological evidence in this outbreak point to Del Monte cantaloupe sold at Costco stores as being the cause of the illnesses.

Del Monte apparently recognized the value of this evidence when, on March 22, 2011, the company voluntarily recalled 4,992 cartons of cantaloupes due to possible contamination with Salmonella Panama. The recalled cantaloupe were sold at Costco stores in plastic beige mesh sleeves each sealed with a plastic orange handle with the Del Monte Logo and indication “3 count, Product of Guatemala.” They were available for sale between the 10th of March and the 21st of March, 2011. These recalled cantaloupe were not the ones involved in the outbreak because the reported dates of illness onset ranged from February 5, 2011 to March 4, 2011, days before the recalled cantaloupe were available for sale. The Del Monte cantaloupe recall was issued as a precautionary measure.

For a Salmonella victim to win a food poisoning lawsuit, his or her attorney must prove that contaminated food was the cause of the Salmonella infection (salmonellosis). This is done with both epidemiological and microbiological evidence. Epidemiological evidence consists of interviews with those sickened to determine if there is a common element that ties the illnesses together. For example, in the Costco cantaloupe Salmonella outbreak, the twelve of the thirteen victims told investigators that they ate cantaloupe in the week before illness. Eleven of these twelve said they ate cantaloupe purchased at eight different Costco locations. Costco membership card records substantiated this. Microbiological evidence involves testing the victims for Salmonella and determining if they have a genetically matching strain of the pathogen. In this outbreak thirteen people in five states were sickened with a genetically identical strain of Salmonella Panama: Oregon (5 cases), Washington (4 cases), California (2 cases), Colorado (1 case) and Maryland (1 case). The epidemiological and microbiological evidence in this outbreak point to Del Monte cantaloupe sold at Costco stores as being the cause of the illnesses.

Del Monte apparently recognized the value of this evidence when, on March 22, 2011, the company voluntarily recalled 4,992 cartons of cantaloupes due to possible contamination with Salmonella Panama. The recalled cantaloupe were sold at Costco stores in plastic beige mesh sleeves each sealed with a plastic orange handle with the Del Monte Logo and indication “3 count, Product of Guatemala.” They were available for sale between the 10th of March and the 21st of March, 2011. These recalled cantaloupe were not the ones involved in the outbreak because the reported dates of illness onset ranged from February 5, 2011 to March 4, 2011, days before the recalled cantaloupe were available for sale. The Del Monte cantaloupe recall was issued as a precautionary measure.

Author Bio: Pritzker Olsen law firm represents Salmonella victims nationwide. Contact our Salmonella attorneys about a Del Monte and Costco cantaloupe lawsuit.

Category: Legal
Keywords: salmonella, cantaloupe, attorneys, lawsuit, food,

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