According to a complaint filed in Bernalillo County District Court (#D-202-CV-2011-12566), 63-year old Rene Gaxiola consumed cantaloupe that was produced by Jensen Farms in the weeks leading up to his illness. On September 7, 2011, Mr. Gaxiola began experiencing symptoms of Listeria illness such as fever, chills, cramps, and diarrhea. The same day his condition worsened rapidly and his wife Susanna took him to Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, where he became disoriented, unable to communicate, and his temperature rose to over 106 degrees. Over the next three days Mr. Gaxiola’s condition continued to deteriorate and he died in the hospital on September 10. The lawsuit states that blood samples tested positive for a strain of Listeria associated with a multistate cantaloupe outbreak.
On December 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that at least 146 people had been made ill with Listeria as a result of consuming Jensen Farms cantaloupe. At least 30 deaths and one miscarriage have been attributed to the Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe.
The lawsuit also names distributor Frontera Produce as well as food safety auditors Primus Labs and Bio Food Safety as defendants. According to news reports, just days before the outbreak the auditors gave Jensen Farms a 96% score on the farm’s facilities audit. However, on October 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a contradictory report of its own, detailing unsanitary conditions and rampant Listeria contamination inside the Jensen Farms packing facility.