Marler Clark to File 2 Lawsuits Against Frozen Berry Producer Linked to Hepatitis A Scare


PORTLAND, OR—Marler Clark will file 2 lawsuits—one today and one tomorrow—against Townsend Farms, Inc., the company whose Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend has been linked to a hepatitis A outbreak, this week. The lawsuits will be filed in San Diego County Superior Court on behalf of a woman who fell ill with a hepatitis A infection after eating Townsend Farms frozen berries and in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of named plaintiff Jacob Petersen and all other individuals who received hepatitis A vaccinations after exposure to the hepatitis A virus from the consumption of the frozen berry blend.

On Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment encouraged all individuals who had eaten Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend within the last 14 days to seek vaccination against hepatitis A, a communicable disease that is often transmitted through food-contamination. The hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin injections administered prophylactically can prevent infection if given within 14 days of exposure. According to the class action complaint to be filed in Orange County Superior Court on Monday, Jacob Petersen and all other potential class action plaintiffs in this lawsuit are those persons who were required, for public health and personal safety reasons, to obtain a vaccination against hepatitis A, or who received a prophylactic dose of immune globulin (IG), due to their exposure.

Plaintiff Christie Favero, a San Diego County resident whose lawsuit will be filed Tuesday, fell ill with symptoms of hepatitis A infection on May 19, 2013. She had a headache and pain in her right side. She fought a headache and fatigue for 3 days before seeking medical treatment on May 21. Ms. Favero was contacted by the San Diego County Health Department and later learned that she was part of the hepatitis A outbreak linked to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix with pomegranate seeds. During the acute phase of her illness, Ms. Favero was unable to care for her children, had to cancel vacation plans and was unable to enjoy a visit from her father-in-law who had traveled from Argentina to spend time with her family.

According to the CDC, The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend was sold at Costco stores between late February, 2013 and May, 2013. Costco Wholesale is notifying its members who purchased the frozen berry products of their potential exposure to hepatitis A. The CDC stated on its website that The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix associated with illness contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the US, Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.

“Consumers of frozen berries should not have to worry about their safety,” said William Marler, attorney for the plaintiffs. “Christine Favero, Jacob Petersen and others who ate the Townsend Farms product deserve more.”

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented hundreds of people who contracted hepatitis A after eating contaminated food. The law firm has represented thousands who received hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin injections to prevent infection.