One day after the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) initiated one of the largest food recall in American history, foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark filed a second lawsuit in the Salmonella outbreak linked to their products. The lawsuit was filed against PCA in the US District Court of California, Northern District, on behalf of the Trone family of Crescent City, California.
“We’re filing this lawsuit because we have repeatedly requested that PCA immediately pay medical expenses and wage loss for all of the 501 people sickened by their products,” said the Trone’s attorney, Bill Marler. “There has been no response from them, none. It’s unconscionable.”
Up to and including Christmas Day, 2008, 3-year-old Bryson Trone ate peanut butter cracker sandwiches made with PCA’s peanut butter product. On December 26, he fell ill with fever and frequent bouts of diarrhea that turned bloody. When his symptoms worsened, he was admitted to the hospital, where he remained for 5 days. While hospitalized, he tested positive for the strain of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with the PCA outbreak. He continues to recover from his illness.
The outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium began in August 2008, and the CDC reports that more than 500 people have been sickened and the infection contributed to eight deaths. The illnesses were first linked to peanut butter on January 9, and later traced to the PCA processing plant in Blakely, GA. The now-shuttered plant provided peanut butter and peanut paste used in many products, including cookies, candies, ice cream, nutrition bars, and dog treats. Dozens of companies have recalled hundreds of products, with more appearing every day. After FDA disclosures of ongoing contamination and questionable practices, PCA recalled all products manufactured in the plant since January 1, 2007.
Weeks ago I asked the CDC, FDA and PCA to respond to the following list, however, there still has been limited, or no, response to my “To Do List.”
1. Make sure ALL product is promptly recalled – after a fitful start, the FDA’s website now lists hundreds of products that have been recalled. Companies who do not use PCA’s peanut butter or paste have a competing website listing those products considered safe.
2. PCA should not destroy any documents – despite legal obligations to keep documents, many manufacturing companies believe that “uncomfortable” documents are better shredded.
3. PCA should pay the medical bills and all related expenses of the innocent victims and their families – other than statistics on the CDC website, these sickened people and grieving families deserve to be treated with dignity – they should not have to worry about the financial stress of medical bills and lost wages.
4. PCA should pay the cost of all related Health Department, CDC and FDA investigations – why should taxpayers throughout the United States pay for the cost of investigating one company’s error?
5. The CDC, FDA and PCA must provide all bacterial and viral testing of all PCA peanut butter products – before and after recall.
6. The FDA and PCA must release all inspection reports on the PCA plant by any governmental entity or third-party auditor.
7. PCA must release all bacterial or viral safety precautions taken – especially after the 2007 Salmonella peanut butter outbreak.
8. The CDC, State and Local Health Departments and FDA should release all data behind the Epidemiological investigation (with names redacted), so it is clear who knew what and when about the likely source of the outbreak.
9. The FDA and the Peanut Industry must show the public what is being done now to prevent the next outbreak.