As Congress held a hearing to investigate the practices of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), one of the more than 640 people sickened in the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak traced to their products filed a lawsuit against them. The lawsuit was filed against PCA and the Kellogg Company in the US District Court of Georgia, Middle District, on behalf of the Hicks family, whose toddler fell ill after eating cracker sandwiches made by Kellogg with product from PCA. The family is represented by Seattle foodborne illness firm Marler Clark and by Patrick Flynn of Georgia firm Flynn, Peeler & Phillips.
The Peanut Corporation of America filed for bankruptcy on February 13, but attorney Bill Marler is moving to lift the stay of bankruptcy so that litigation can continue.
“Peanut Corporation of America is responsible for sickening hundreds and contributing to the deaths of nine,” said Marler. “The victims of this outbreak can’t put their bills on hold, and shouldn’t be asked to.”
In December, 2008, two-year-old Emma Hicks ate peanut butter cracker sandwiches and fell ill. Her parents sought emergency medical care for her nausea, profuse diarrhea, and abdominal pain, but were sent home with the child and told to keep her hydrated. When her symptoms worsened they returned to the hospital, and she was admitted. During her stay, a stool sample revealed that she had been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. After her release, she required weeks to return to health.
“Salmonella can be a dangerous infection for kids,” continued Marler, who will be in Las Vegas on February 22 addressing the National Meat Association MeatXpo. “Many of our clients in this outbreak are children who were made gravely ill by foods their families trusted to be safe.”
Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses were reported as early as August 2008, but were not linked to peanut butter until January 2009. They were then traced to the PCA processing plants in Blakely, GA and Plainview, TX. The now-shuttered plants provided peanut butter and peanut paste used in many products, including cookies, crackers, candies, ice cream, nutrition bars, and dog treats. Dozens of companies have recalled thousands of products, with more appearing every day.