That was the opening sentence in the National Law Journal’s Jenna Greene’s article this morning – “Ripe for litigation.”  (You need a subscription to read the article).

With Listeria-tainted cantaloupe killing at least 33 and sickening 147 last year according to the CDC, and with the CDC tracking 2 dead and 204 sickened (so far) with Salmonella-tainted cantaloupe, her description seems apt.

And, not only does the cantaloupe industry need to contend with being compared to sharks, snakes and crashing airplanes, but “[w]idespread food poisoning means widespread litigation.”

Regarding last year’s Listeria outbreak linked to Jensen Farms:

The plaintiffs, many of them elderly, “never thought they could get sick from cantaloupe — ever. And it either killed them or nearly killed them,” said William Marler, a name partner at Seattle food poisoning boutique Marler Clark, who represents 43 people who got listeriosis from cantaloupe.

And, then there is this year’s Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to Chamberlain Farms:

“The adulterated food product that the defendants manufactured, distributed, and/or sold was, at the time it left the defendants’ control, defective and unreasonably dangerous for its ordinary and expected use,” alleges the complaint, which was filed by … Marler Clark.

Litigation aside, the cantaloupe industry – growers, processors, shippers and retailers – need to change the discussion by fixing the problem.