Industry News | January 27, 2009

Peanut Corporation Served First Salmonella-Related Lawsuit

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The sudden and unexpected death of a Minnesota woman who fell victim to a nationwide Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak has prompted a wrongful death lawsuit against Virginia-based Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

Fred Pritzker, founder and president of national food safety law firm Pritzker | Olsen, P.A., filed the complaint Monday in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis for the heirs and of Shirley Mae Almer, 72, of Perham, Minnesota: Jeffrey Almer as trustee of the heirs of Shirley Mae Almer v. Peanut Corporation of America, a Virginia business entity and King Nut Companies, an Ohio business entity.

King Nut Companies is an Ohio-based firm that allegedly distributed the contaminated peanut butter that came out of PCA's plant in Blakely, Georgia, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, the product was delivered to a nursing home in Brainerd, Minnesota, where Mrs. Almer was temporarily residing.

The complaint alleges that her death on Dec. 21 was a direct result of consuming peanut butter that contained the same genetic strain of Salmonella that has sickened more than 500 other people in 43 states. On Jan. 13, the FDA announced that PCA initiated a recall that included the product that had been served to Mrs. Almer.

"This is a very large and significant recall," Pritzker said. "It points to a number of vulnerabilities in our food safety system that require legislation and funding to correct. Consumers should feel concerned and demand a significant overhaul."

The complaint alleges negligence on behalf of PCA and King Nut for failure to train and properly supervise peanut butter production workers and other employees; failure to safely produce, store and transport its products; failure to maintain sanitary conditions during and after production; failure to prevent cross-contamination and failure to properly test its products, as well as other acts of negligence.

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