Marler Clark Announces Settlement of Lawsuits Against Importer of Cantaloupe Linked to Salmonella


Outbreaks of Salmonella Becoming More Common Across the Country

SEATTLE, WA — A settlement has been reached in a case against Shipley Sales Service, of Nogales, AZ, involving two individuals who contracted Salmonella in May 2001 after consuming contaminated cantaloupe. This information was announced today by Marler Clark, the Seattle-based law firm nationally known for its successful litigation of cases involving food-borne illness. The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed.

The victims in the case were 78-year-old Florence Dodds and 15-month-old toddler Nathan Eget. Dodds subsequently died of her injuries.

Dodds, a resident of Hemet, California, endured significant physical and mental suffering as a result of a salmonella infection prior to her death. Her family incurred nearly $10,000 in medical expenses.

“Deaths from salmonella poisoning are quite rare, but according to the CDC, about 1,000 people die annually in the Untied States from this illness. This was an unfortunate, but completely preventable tragedy,” said William Marler, attorney at Marler Clark.

Nathan Eget is the son of Liz and Rick Eget of Tarzana, California. On Wednesday, April 25, 2001, Nathan began to experience serious symptoms of illness, including severe diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. He refused food and became extremely lethargic and listless. On Tuesday, May 1, it was discovered that Eget's illness from Salmonella had resulted in a blood-borne bacterial infection. After this diagnosis, Eget was transferred to ICU and given antibiotic treatment. While in ICU, Eget's temperature continued to spike, while he remained completely lethargic. He remained hospitalized for over a week, incurring over $40,000 in medical expenses.

On May 25, 2001, as a result of this outbreak, the FDA issued a press release warning consumers about Viva Brand imported cantaloupe. The FDA advised consumers of an outbreak of Salmonella Poona linked to cantaloupe imported to the U.S. by Shipley Sales Service. The outbreak was implicated in numerous illnesses in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington State. One death was reported. The FDA detained all cantaloupe imported by Shipley Sales Service and took steps to prevent the importation of any additional contaminated cantaloupe.

"The scary thing is that this event is not an isolated incident," said Marler. "As a matter of fact, Salmonella outbreaks have been becoming more and more prevalent over the last several years. And the number of individuals affected by this potentially fatal, yet completely preventable, disease is rising to an alarming degree."

Over the last months Salmonella outbreaks have sprung up all over the country. These include:

  • The Wyndham Anatole in Dallas, TX who exposed over 3,000 guests and convention goers from all over the country to the virus over a three-week period from March to April 2002
  • Several eateries in Spruce Pine, NC are currently being investigated by local health officials regarding an outbreak that could see as many as 400 victims.
  • This past week a Menomonie, WI Subway franchise was found to be the culprit in an outbreak involving almost two dozen area residents.

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Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of all food-borne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Marler Clark also represented the HUS victims in the Georgia Water Park Litigation. Since 1993 Marler Clark has successfully resolved well over a thousand food-borne illness matters. Total recoveries exceed $75 million. Marler Clark is currently lead counsel in actions resulting from E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, Norwalk Virus or Hepatitis A outbreaks in Washington, California, Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey and Wisconsin. Marler Clark has also litigated on behalf of children against KFC, Bauer Meats, IBP, Excel, McDonalds, Hardees, Wendy’s, Subway, and Sizzler. Marler Clark recently secured a verdict of $4.75 million against a School District in Eastern Washington. Marler Clark has settled several Salmonella and Hepatitis A actions for over $1 million. The partners at Marler Clark also speak frequently on a variety of food safety issues.

More about the Viva cantaloupe Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.