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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Peanut Butter and the Ninth Ward

Well, I can’t say we made much progress with ConAgra in trying to find a path towards resolving customer illnesses from ingesting Salmonella-tainted Peanut Butter. What both sides are still trying to figure out is less what the value of a Salmonella cases is (just ask me, after settling over 2,500 in the last few years, I know what juries and insurance companies will pay), but what is in fact a case. We know that in this outbreak the CDC “officially” counts 714 people as ill, but it also statistically projects nearly 27,561 people total as likely ill from consuming Peter Pan or Great Value peanut butter. Of course, we also know that there are Salmonella cases from 2005 and early 2006 linked to ConAgra Peanut Butter that have not yet been “officially” counted by the FDA or CDC. The question is how do you figure out who was actually ill from eating poisoned peanut butter from the people who consumed nearly 180,000,000 jars of the stuff during the recall period (October 2004 to February 2007)? Well, that is why we have the jury system to resolve disputes like that – more on that in the years to come.

I decided to stay a bit in New Orleans and walked through the French Quarter – an amazing place, and a place unlike any city in the United States. Sitting in a sidewalk café in 80 degree weather while sipping a beer, eating gumbo and listening to Jazz is not so bad. I did drive out to the 9th Ward – one of the areas hit the hardest during Katrina – to see for myself, what if any, progress has been made in the rebuilding of that once vibrant neighborhood. Honestly, other than some hardworking pioneers rebuilding their own homes and various church groups and Habitat for Humanity helping, nothing, nothing exists. Most blocks are vacant – filled with overgrown plants, or houses like this one that beg, "DO NOT DEMO."  It is sad. It is Embarrassing. Where is the help we promised?