We filed a lawsuit today against Forever Cheese, the importer of Listeria-contaminated Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese that federal public health officials have determined is the source of a 15-person Listeria outbreak.  The lawsuit, which also names cheese distributor Peterson Company as a defendant, was filed in King County Superior Court on behalf of Seattle resident Merrill West Behnke.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Behnke consumed ricotta salata cheese on August 25, 2012 and fell ill with the first symptom of Listeria infection, a headache, on August 28.  The next day, Ms. Behnke began experiencing severe neck and back pains accompanied by a 102 degree fever.  Her husband took her to an urgent care clinic, where after a lumbar puncture and CT scan she was diagnosed with Listeria meningitis.  Although serum from a lumbar puncture the day of her admission tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria one week into her hospitalization, Ms. Behnke spent part of the 2 weeks she was hospitalized in the intensive care unit while physicians attempted to find the right antibiotic treatment regimen to combat her infection.  She was discharged from the hospital on September 13, and has continued to receive antibiotics 6 times daily since her discharge from the hospital.