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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

July 2007 Castleberry Botulism Outbreak Settled

Myself, along with Charles Murray, Esq., represented Carl Ours, a man with the tragically bad luck to be one of the eight cases of botulism associated with contaminated Castleberry’s Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce. As a result of the botulism, Carl spent almost a month in the hospital, with sixteen days of it on a ventilator. He then spent weeks in a nursing home and a year latter he is still suffering from the impacts. We were able to secure a settlement for Carl after mediation.  For the full detail on the outbreak click here.

Botulism is a rare, life-threatening paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins produced by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. The incidence of foodborne botulism is extremely low. Nonetheless, the extreme danger posed by the bacteria has required that “intensive surveillance is maintained for botulism cases in the United States, and every case is treated as a public health emergency.” This danger includes a mortality rate of up to 65% when victims are not treated immediately and properly. Most of the botulism events that are reported annually in the United States are associated with home-canned foods that have not been safely processed. Very occasionally, however, commercially- processed foods are implicated as the source of a botulism events, including sausages, beef stew, canned vegetables, and seafood products.  I also think the settlements had a bit to do with these two reports – 1 and 2 and this testimony.