Lawsuit filed against maker of botulism-tainted chili


SEATTLE, WA – A lawsuit will be filed Thursday against Castleberry’s Food Co., the company that recalled tens of millions of pounds of canned meat products sold under over 80 different labels after they were identified as the source of a botulism outbreak in July, 2007. The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of Carl Ours, a New London, Ohio resident who became ill with botulism poisoning after consuming Castleberry’s Chili Sauce in late June of 2007. Mr. Ours is represented by Marler Clark of Seattle and Murray & Murray of Sandusky, Ohio.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that he consumed Castleberry’s Chili Sauce on or about June 28, 2007, and began suffering from symptoms of botulism, including muscle weakness, inability of swallow, and choking while eating, on June 30. Mr. Ours’ symptoms worsened and within days he suffered weakness in his arms and legs that progressed until he had difficulty walking. He sought emergency treatment several times before being taken by “life-flight” helicopter to the Cleveland Clinic, where he was diagnosed with botulism poisoning. Mr. Ours was hospitalized from July 7 to August 3, and was then transferred to a nursing home to continue his recovery. He returned home on August 24, but continues to suffer physical injury as a result of his botulism illness.

“Castleberry’s sold a product that was unsafe for human consumption and now owes a duty to its injured customers to compensate them for their injuries,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. “It’s only right for Castleberry’s to offer restitution for Mr. Ours’ physical, emotional, and financial losses. His medical expenses and lost wages alone are in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness that is caused by a nerve toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. The illness can cause paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.

Marler added, “Without proper medical care, Mr. Ours and others who were part of the outbreak might not still be with us today.”

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, including victims of botulism poisoning, since 1993. The firm’s attorneys have litigated high-profile food poisoning cases against such companies as ConAgra, Wendy’s, Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, and Jack in the Box. Marler Clark currently represents thousands of victims of outbreaks traced to ground beef, pot pies, spinach, and peanut butter, as well as other foods.

More about the Castleberry's botulism outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.