All News / Outbreaks /

Lawsuit filed over tainted cantaloupes

Gary Chittim, KING 5 News

May 24, 2002

SEATTLE - A Seattle law firm is going after a company blamed for distributing tainted cantaloupe that made an elderly man deathly ill.

A lawsuit filed in federal court Friday accuses the company of failing to ensure the imported cantaloupes were safe.

84-year-old Harold Elli of Klickitat County is in a rehabilitation center after spending more than two weeks in the hospital. He's going to make it, but doctors say he was on the brink of death - all from food poisoning from cantaloupes.

Steven Elli still remembers being told his Dad was on his deathbed suffering from salmonella from a cantaloupe.

"It's unreal,” said Steven Elli. “I couldn't believe it. You hear about meat all the time and here we've got fresh produce. What's going to be next?"

Actually, salmonella from cantaloupe is not all that rare. The lawsuit contends dozens of residents in the western states got it form the same batch of Mexican grown cantaloupes.

Attorneys say the distributor, Kunick Company of Texas, is responsible for the safety of the produce it imports and sells.

"In this case there's obviously been a startling lack of effort to make sure that the cantaloupe in question was produced under sanitary conditions," said Bruce Clark, attorney.

KING 5 News contacted the Kunik Company Friday, which voluntarily recalled more than a quarter million cantaloupes when the first health issues surfaced.

A spokesman says he sorry it happened, but can't comment on a lawsuit he hasn't seen yet.

The possibly tainted cantaloupe was sold under the Susi brand name. Stores pulled it from their shelves but anyone who may have purchased it should return it.

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
Salmonella Food Poisoning

What is Salmonella and how does it cause food poisoning? The term Salmonella refers to a specific group of gram-negative bacteria with the potential to cause gastrointestinal distress and other...

The Incidence of Salmonella Infections

Typhoidal Salmonella Salmonella enterica serotypes Typhi, Sendai, and Paratyphi A, B, or C are found exclusively in humans. These serotypes, collectively referred to as typhoidal Salmonella, cause enteric fever (also...

The Prevalence of Salmonella in Food and Elsewhere

Most Salmonella infections are caused by eating contaminated food. One study found that 87% of all confirmed cases of Salmonella are foodborne. Foods of animal origin, including meat, poultry, eggs...

Transmission of Salmonella Bacteria

In the past two decades, consumption of produce, especially sprouts, tomatoes, fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and nut butters, has been associated with Salmonella illnesses. The surface of fruits and vegetables...

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. Salmonella infections can have a broad range of illness, from no symptoms to severe illness. The most common clinical...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database