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Peanut Corporation's Bankruptcy Doesn't Stop Lawsuits

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA)—the peanut processor responsible for a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium—has filed for bankruptcy protection, but attorney Bill Marler is working to change that. His firm, Seattle foodborne illness powerhouse Marler Clark, is moving to lift the stay of bankruptcy so that litigation on behalf of victims can continue.

"Peanut Corporation of America is responsible for sickening more than 640 people and contributing to the deaths of nine," says Marler. "The victims of this outbreak can't put their bills on hold, and shouldn't be asked to."

Bryson Trone, a 3-year-old Crescent City child, ate peanut butter cracker sandwiches made with PCA's peanut butter product up to and including Christmas Day 2008. On December 26, he fell ill with fever and frequent bouts of diarrhea that turned bloody. When his symptoms worsened, he was admitted to the hospital, where he remained for five days. While hospitalized, he tested positive for the strain of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with the PCA outbreak.

The lawsuit on behalf of the Trone family was filed against PCA and the Kellogg Company in the U.S. District Court of Georgia, Middle District. The family is represented by Marler Clark and by Patrick Flynn of Georgia firm Flynn, Peeler & Phillips.

"Salmonella can be a dangerous infection for kids," says Marler, who will be in Palm Springs February 23-26 addressing the Grocery Manufacturer's Association Food Claims and Litigation Conference. "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, Georgia, and Plainview, Texas. 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.

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