Salmonella lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – A lawsuit was filed today against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the company whose Greenwood, Indiana, store was the source of a Salmonella outbreak between May and August, 2006. The lawsuit was filed in Johnson County Superior Court on behalf of Ryan Merritt, a Greenwood resident whose son became violently ill and was hospitalized after consuming foods purchased at the Wal-Mart deli. Mr. Merritt is represented by the Seattle law firm of Marler Clark, widely recognized as the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illnesses, and Greenwood attorney John M. Reames.

In the complaint, attorneys allege that Mr. Merritt purchased ham and cheese from the Wal-Mart deli on August 13. Mr. Merritt’s son, Noah, consumed the ham and cheese in the subsequent days and became ill on August 18. Noah’s symptoms became severe by August 20, and he was seen in the Emergency Room at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis on August 22. Noah was subsequently admitted to the hospital, and was released on August 24. While hospitalized, Noah provided a stool sample that tested positive for Salmonella.

“The Indiana State Health Department reported that at least 84 customers who ate foods from the deli and bakery departments at Wal-Mart from May to August were part of this Salmonella outbreak,” said William Marler, attorney for Mr. Merritt. “The longevity of this outbreak suggests that it was not the result of a one-time food handling error, but rather the consequence of repeat food code violations over a period of four months. The spread of foodborne illness from infected workers can be prevented by proper hygiene – especially handwashing.”

An Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) investigation into the Salmonella outbreak led ISDH to believe that infected food workers who did not exhibit symptoms of Salmonellosis, or who were a-symptomatic carriers of the bacterium, contaminated the deli and bakery foods.

“We’ve seen this before and will see it again,” Marler continued. “Businesses who fail to enforce strict handwashing policies will continue to be the source of outbreaks, and will be held responsible for their failures through the legal system.”

Marler’s law firm, Marler Clark, has represented thousands of victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The firm recently negotiated settlements on behalf of 138 individuals who became ill with Salmonella infections after eating contaminated tomatoes served at Sheetz convenience stores in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio in 2004. Marler Clark represented 50 individuals in litigation against Chili’s after the chain’s Vernon Hills, Illinois restaurant was traced as the source of a Salmonella outbreak in 2003.

More about the Indiana Wal-Mart Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.