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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

DeCoster again linked to Salmonella enteritidis egg recall – Why is this “habitual violator” not closed?

P.J. Huffstutter of the Los Angeles Times reported this morning the “Eggs from Ohio farm recalled from 8 states over Salmonella.” Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the nation’s leading egg seller and distributor, said Monday that it was recalling 288,000 eggs [due to Salmonella enteritidis] that the Jackson, Mississippi, firm had bought from Ohio Fresh Eggs. The eggs involved were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Here is the kicker:

Austin “Jack” DeCoster, whose Wright County Egg was one of the two Iowa farms connected to at least 1,600 people falling ill because of contaminated eggs earlier this year, has long had financial ties to Ohio Fresh Egg. In 2003, Mr. DeCoster made a $125 million investment in Ohio Fresh Eggs, a company co-owned by Orland Bethel, who is also owner of Hillandale Farms, the other Iowa farm connected to the August recalls of 550 million eggs.

As I said to Ms. Huffstutter:

“In some respect, the fact that recalls are occurring shows that the FDA and some companies are taking salmonella and the egg rule seriously,” said food safety attorney William Marler, who represents 105 people who tested positive for Salmonella enteritidis linked to Wright County and Hillandale eggs.

Lewis.jpgI also spoke with Michael Crumb of the AP for his article, “Lawyers Say Proving Egg-Related Lawsuits Difficult,” that ran Monday. I explained to him the difficulty of linking people who have become ill with Salmonella:

“Without a positive culture, it’s difficult to link egg consumption to the illness,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who has filed six cases in Iowa. “Just because you bought eggs and got sick, it’s probably not enough to prove a case.”

One of Marler’s clients, 30-year-old Sarah Lewis, of Freedom, Calif., said her life hasn’t been the same since she ate a custard tart made with contaminated eggs last spring. Since then, she’s been hospitalized twice, continues to have chronic diarrhea and vomiting and has developed ulcerative colitis. She’s lost 30 pounds and must take 10 medications a day. “It’s taken its toll,” said Lewis, who has two daughters, ages 7 and 5. “You try not to be cranky and have a positive attitude, but it’s hard. I just want to be me.”

So, why is this “habitual violator” not closed?  Perhaps 100 lawsuits will be a good answer?

  • It Can Be Done

    This man controls over 95% of our county’s
    egg production. I wonder if he also owns the other
    5%, just under someone else’s name. (Wouldn’t be
    the first time he’s done it.) Why isn’t he in prison exactly?