Marler Clark Sues Cantaloupe Distributor & Farm Auditor in Louisiana

Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness, and Shreveport-based McMichael, Medlin, D’Anna, Wedgeworth & Lafargue, filed a lawsuit Friday on behalf of the sons of a Baton Rouge woman who died as a result of a Listeria infection she contracted during last year’s outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown by Colorado-based Jensen Farms. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge against Frontera Produce, the company that distributed the Listeria-contaminated Jensen Farms cantaloupes, and Primus Labs, the company that performed a food safety inspection of the Jensen Farms facility prior to the Listeria outbreak.

According to the complaint, Jensen Farms and Frontera Produce contracted with Primus Labs to conduct an audit of the Jensen Farms packing facility on July 25, 2011, just 5 days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the first victim of the cantaloupe-related Listeria outbreak. Primus Labs subcontracted the audit to Bio Food Safety, another auditing company, which rated the Jensen Farms packing house “superior” and scored the facility 96%. The complaint alleges that Frontera produce represented the cantaloupes it sold as “Primus Certified” “as an inducement for the purchase of its various products, including cantaloupes.”

Attorney Bill Marler commented on the lawsuit: “Frontera Produce promoted its products as ‘Primus Certified’ as a marketing tool. People across the country believed in that certification, and as things turned out, it meant nothing. When it comes down to it, in this case maybe someone should have audited the auditors.”