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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Criminal Probe of Jensen Farms 2011 Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak Likely

Bllomberg’s Stephanie Armour posted “Cantaloupe Outbreak Targeted by U.S. Prosecutors, Lawyer Says” a few moments ago.  Here is the story:

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado is investigating a deadly 2011 listeria outbreak traced to a cantaloupe processor in the state, according to a lawyer for victims.

The outbreak triggered by the contaminated fruit killed at least 30 people, sickened another 146 and was the deadliest in almost 90 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A congressional investigation found the incident may have been avoided if the processor, Jensen Farms in Granada, Colorado, had followed U.S. food-safety guidelines.

“The investigators were here three weeks ago and we turned over all the files on death cases to them,” Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer at Marler Clark LLP who represents 42 victims of the outbreak, including the families of about 20 people who died, said in an interview. “It’s an ongoing investigation.”

Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the Denver-based U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment about the reported criminal investigation.

James Markus, a lawyer in Denver representing Jensen Farms, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jensen Farms in July filed for bankruptcy in Denver and settlement talks are under way in lawsuits involving victims of the outbreak against the processors and grocers that sold the contaminated cantaloupe, Marler said.

Marler said he yesterday sent an e-mail to the victims he represents alerting them to the probe, which he said is unusual in cases of foodborne illness outbreaks.

  • Paul F Schwarz

    I am eager to see the Jensen Brothers handcuffed on their way to jail. A potential 3 year sentence isn’t enough, but right now that is what the law will allow.
    I purposely hesitated commenting on this. Where are the other family members that lost a loved one or who personally witnessed the pain of listeriosis that was set upon a loved one that survived the Jensen Farms listeria outbreak. Next month will be a 1 year anniversary of this outbreak. We, the families, have an opportunity to express what we went through this past year. We will continue to experience this for the rest of our lives.
    I will not forget nor will I become complacent about what happened to our loved ones or what turmoil this caused to our lives!
    Paul A Schwarz
    December 18, 2011
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3 Ft Leavenworth/Leavenworth National Cemetery

  • Donna Wells Lloyd

    Paul. . .we are right here with you. My father, Clarence Wells, was among the first to die after eating a cantaloupe grown by the Jensens. It has been an awful year for us all. My dad is being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery next month. My dad lived with us. He was getting on in years but was full of life and ready to go on a moment’s notice. This last weekend I kept wondering if this was the anniversary of the day that I sliced up a cantaloupe for his breakfast. I won’t forget the cavalier attitude that the Jensens have shown during this last year. I’m hoping that there is some punishment for them. It won’t bring back my dad, or yours, but will provide a strange sort of peace to have them held accountable for their actions and greed.
    I wish you and your family a quiet and reflective time during the next several weeks. I, too, just want my father back.
    My best.

  • Michelle Wakley

    Thanks to Bill Marler for bringing so much attention to this topic. This case might have gone under the rader if he and his firm had not dedicatied so much time and effort for our cause. Hopefully no other families will have to endure such pain as all of us.

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Donna and Michelle,
    Have you responded to the PEW folks? My 2nd paragraph was specifically referring to the offer from PEW to come to DC. Maybe I should have mentioned PEW, but I thought that families would understand what I meant. My understanding is that there is not many family members expressing an interest in coming to DC. This is a chance for ordinary citizens to make a difference.
    Occupy Food Safety!
    Paul F Schwarz
    Paul A Schwarz
    December 18, 2011
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3 Ft Leavenworth/Leavenworth National Cemetery