As Congress held a hearing to investigate the practices of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), some of the more than 640 people sickened in the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak traced to their products filed a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit was filed against PCA and the Kellogg Company in the US District Court of Georgia, Middle District, on behalf of the Kirchner family, whose two children fell ill after eating cracker sandwiches made by Kellogg with product from PCA. The family is represented by Seattle foodborne illness firm Marler Clark and by Patrick Flynn of Georgia firm Flynn, Peeler, & Phillips.
The Peanut Corporation of America filed for bankruptcy on February 13, but attorney Bill Marler is moving to lift the stay of bankruptcy so that litigation can continue.
“Peanut Corporation of America is responsible for sickening hundreds and contributing to the deaths of nine,” said Marler. “The victims of this outbreak can’t put their bills on hold, and shouldn’t be asked to.”
The Kirchner’s younger child became ill in December, 2008 after eating snack foods made with Salmonella-tainted peanut butter. Even though their pediatrician ordered stool samples and identified Salmonella poisoning, the link to peanut butter had not been established and their older child also fell ill. The pediatrician suspected another case of Salmonella poisoning, and suggested that the worried parents take their son to Children’s hospital, where the severity of his symptoms necessitated his admission. He remained hospitalized for three days, where he was also cultured with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium. Both children are still struggling to regain their health.
“Salmonella can be a dangerous infection for kids,” continued Marler, who represents more than 50 victims of the outbreak. “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, GA and Plainview, TX. 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.