Marler Clark, the Salmonella Lawyers, filed 12 lawsuits and were retained by over two dozen families.
As of October 14, 2015, 71 more ill people were reported from 23 states. Illnesses that occurred after October 21, 2015 might not have been reported yet. A series of events occur between the time a person is infected and the time public health officials can determine that the person is part of an outbreak. This means that there will be a delay between when a person gets sick and confirmation that he or she is part of an outbreak. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.
As of November 18, 2015, 838 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona were reported from 38 states. The number of ill people reported from each state was as follows: Alabama (1), Alaska (17), Arizona (129), Arkansas (13), California (232), Colorado (19), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (24), Illinois (9), Indiana (5), Iowa (7), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Maryland (1), Minnesota (40), Missouri (14), Montana (16), Nebraska (8), Nevada (16), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (32), New York (6), North Dakota (8), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (13), Oregon (22), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (10), South Dakota (3), Texas (42), Utah (58), Virginia (1), Washington (25), Wisconsin (43), and Wyoming (7).
Among people for whom information was available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to November 1, 2015. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 18. Fifty percent of ill people were children younger than 18 years. Fifty-seven percent of ill people were female. Among 601 people with available information, 165 (27%) reported being hospitalized. Four deaths were reported from Arizona (1), California (1), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1).
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak. Two recalls of cucumbers that may be contaminated with Salmonella were announced as a result of this investigation: Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and Custom Produce Sales.
Andrew and Williamson connected to strawberry outbreak
According to the CDC, in March 1997, a total of 153 cases of hepatitis A were reported in Calhoun County, Michigan. 151 case-patients were students or staff of schools in four different school districts. A case-control and cohort study conducted in two different school districts established a strong association between illness and consumption of food items containing frozen strawberries. The strawberries associated with illness were reportedly from Mexico; a company in southern California processed, packed, and froze the strawberries in 30-pound containers for commercial use and then distributed the strawberries to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-sponsored school lunch programs.
Later that year the Justice Department announced that a federal probe into the sale of hepatitis A-tainted strawberries ended in November with criminal and civil pleas by a strawberry distributor and its president. The March, 1997 outbreak contaminated 198 school children and teachers in Michigan, as well as others in Maine and Wisconsin.
Andrew and Williamson Sales Co., Inc. (“A&W”), and its president, Frederick L. Williamson, admitted their role in the fraudulent sale of 1,742,280 pounds of Mexican grown strawberries to the USDA’s school lunch program. As part of a parallel civil settlement, the company has agreed to pay the government $1.3 million in civil damages. The indictment charges A&W with attempting to disguise the fact that the strawberries it was supplying to the USDA were not grown domestically, as required by the agency. Also, Richard H. Kershaw, the sales representative in charge of A&W’s frozen strawberry business entered a guilty plea.
Both defendants pleaded guilty to violations of conspiracy to defraud the United States, making a false statement, and making a false claim. Frederick L. Williamson, 61, president of Andrew and Williamson Co., spent five months in prison and five months in home custody. The federal judge also ordered Williamson’s company to pay $150,000 in restitution and a $200,000 fine. The company agreed to pay $1.3 million to the federal government.