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Omaha Man Sues Sprout Company Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Jean Ortiz, Associated Press

March 31, 2009

Attorneys for an Omaha man who said he was sickened after eating contaminated alfalfa sprouts have filed a lawsuit against a local company health officials have tied to a multistate salmonella outbreak.

Stephen Beumler, 48, said he became ill after eating alfalfa sprouts March 1. Days later, his doctor confirmed he had been infected with the salmonella St. Paul strain, according to his lawsuit filed Tuesday in Douglas County District Court.

He is suing CW Sprouts, Inc., whose SunSprout products were linked to the outbreak in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado and South Dakota. The lawsuit cites more than 121 cases confirmed in those states in February and March.

In his lawsuit, he says the company failed to properly monitor safety and sanitary conditions of its facilities and more generally failed to prevent the spread of salmonella bacteria in its products.

Beumler is represented by Seattle food safety law firm Marler Clark and Omaha's Ausman Law Firm.

CW Sprouts has defended its products, which were distributed to grocery stores and restaurants.

When reached Tuesday, a company spokesman who hadn't yet seen the lawsuit declined to comment.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services last updated the number of confirmed cases in the state on March 23, saying then there were 84 cases. Another 15 cases were called probable.

As of March 26, the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed 32 related cases.

In early March, the company agreed to recall its alfalfa and onion sprouts as a precaution. But company officials said they believe their safety practices, which include testing for salmonella, would have caught any tainted sprouts.

The company has since resumed distribution of its products.

Salmonella poisoning can cause diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Health officials say preventative measures include washing produce and cooking eggs and meat until done.

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