Marler Clark filed a lawsuit against importer Forever Cheese and Peterson Company, a Washington state cheese distributor, on September 24, 2012. The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle on behalf of a Seattle woman who was hospitalized for 2 weeks after becoming ill with a Listeria infection she contracted through eating Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese. The firm filed a second lawsuit on behalf of a California couple whose baby was born prematurely and died after suffering a Listeria infection he contracted from his mother, who had eaten the Listeria-contaminated ricotta salata cheese.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 24 people became ill with Listeria infections between March and September of 2012 after eating the imported ricotta salata cheese. Four deaths were reported in Listeria outbreak patients who had consumed the ricotta salata cheese or were born to mothers infected with Listeria after eating the cheese. 9 cases were related to pregnancy; 3 Listeria infections were diagnosed in newborns whose mothers had eaten the Listeria-contaminated ricotta cheese.
In a September 18 statement, attorney Bill Marler said, "We focus so much attention on preventing foodborne illness by pasteurizing milk and cheeses. This is a good reminder that just post-pasteurization contamination is as much a risk to consumers as contamination prior to pasteurization. ... Importers need to certify that the products they’re selling are safe for human consumption. We tell pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons to consume only pasteurized dairy products. They should be able to eat these products without fear of miscarriage or death.”