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Local family sues maker of contaminated peanut butter

Kyle Clark, 13WHAM-TV

Feb 18, 2007

Rochester, N.Y. -- First the recall, now the lawsuits over contaminated peanut butter.

A couple from Wayne County has filed suit in federal court in Rochester, claiming the makers of Peter Pan peanut butter gave family members salmonella poisoning.

A jar of Peter Pan peanut butter, purchased at the Penfield Wegmans, described in a lawsuit filed by Mark Avalone and Tracy Hubright of Ontario.

Although the family declined to speak to 13WHAM News, their attorney, Paul Nunes of Underberg Kessler, spoke on their behalf.

"I don't think anyone wants to be a celebrity known for consuming contaminated peanut butter. Nobody does," Nunes said.

Especially considering the unpleasant symptoms of salmonella: violent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

Nunes filed suit for the family against food producer ConAgra. He works with Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler.

"If you produce a product that poisons your customers, it's your fault," Marler said.

More than 300 illnesses have been reported nationwide, 32 of them in New York state.

"We've been fielding many, many calls from across the state," Nunes said.

Calls from a lot of angry people who say they were sickened again and again, never suspecting the culprit was in their cupboard.

"People got sick from peanut butter, began to get better, resumed their diet, had more peanut butter, got sick [again], and then as they got better, had more peanut butter again," Nunes said.

Lawsuits have also been filed in Missouri and Texas.

Nunes says these types of cases can take a long time to go to trial or be settled, as information is collected about victims and both sides discuss possible deals.

ConAgra did not respond to 13WHAM News's request for comment.

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