24-mother-earth-nature-art.jpgKaren Robinson-Jacobs of the Dallas Morning News jumped into the Listeria Cantaloupe case today with her story: Texas shipper in cantaloupe listeria case says it has no bankruptcy plans.

I spoke to Ms. Robinson-Jacobs about the impact of the bankruptcy of the grower of the Listeria-tainted cantaloupes:

A central issue in the case will be how much money is available to pay claims that are likely to exceed $70 million, said attorney Bill Marler, who filed suit in the Dallas County case and represents 39 victims or their families.

“The value of these claims far exceeds what minimal insurance Jensen Farms has,” said Marler. “My clients alone have $7.5 million in medical claims.

“The insurance is badly underfunded, maybe by a factor of 50.”

He said victims eventually may file claims against retailers such as Wal-Mart and Kroger. “There’s enough blame to go around,” he said.

However, what shocked me was this quote attributable to one of Jensen Farm’s owners:

Eric Jensen, the fourth-generation produce grower who runs what’s left of Jensen Farms with his brother Ryan, said the future of the company remains cloudy.

Jensen, 36, attributed the outbreak to “something Mother Nature did.”

“We didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said.

Eric, Mother Nature did not cause this, your farm and an inspection, distribution and retail system run amok caused the 146 illnesses with 36 deaths.  I think you should read the facts found by the FDA and your own testimony before Congressional investigators.  Eric, I would be careful, the statute of limitations in criminal cases last longer than your bankruptcy.  Blaming Mother Nature is not a defense.