New Mexico Widow Files Cantaloupe Listeria Lawsuit


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The widow of a man who died from a Listeria infection has filed a lawsuit against Cantaloupe producer Jensen Farms. The lawsuit was filed by foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark in conjunction with the Albuquerque-based firm Sapien Law. Marler Clark has filed nine previous lawsuits in multiple states against the cantaloupe producer 

According to a complaint filed in Bernalillo County District Court (#D-202-CV-2011-12566), 63-year old Rene Gaxiola consumed cantaloupe that was produced by Jensen Farms in the weeks leading up to his illness. On September 7, 2011, Mr. Gaxiola began experiencing symptoms of Listeria illness such as fever, chills, cramps, and diarrhea. The same day his condition worsened rapidly and his wife Susanna took him to Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, where he became disoriented, unable to communicate, and his temperature rose to over 106 degrees. Over the next three days Mr. Gaxiola’s condition continued to deteriorate and he died in the hospital on September 10. The lawsuit states that blood samples tested positive for a strain of Listeria associated with a multistate cantaloupe outbreak.

On December 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that at least 146 people had been made ill with Listeria as a result of consuming Jensen Farms cantaloupe. At least 30 deaths and one miscarriage have been attributed to the Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe.

The lawsuit also names distributor Frontera Produce as well as food safety auditors Primus Labs and Bio Food Safety as defendants. According to news reports, just days before the outbreak the auditors gave Jensen Farms a 96% score on the farm’s facilities audit. However, on October 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a contradictory report of its own, detailing unsanitary conditions and rampant Listeria contamination inside the Jensen Farms packing facility.

“This outbreak has shined a bright spotlight on third party food safety auditors,” said Marler Clark Listeria attorney William Marler. “For some time, those of us with knowledge of the food industry have questioned their validity. Perhaps now, with 30 dead, it is time to reexamine their role in food safety.”

MARLER CLARK is the nation’s leading law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm’s food poisoning attorneys have unrivaled experience and have secured over $600,000,000 for their clients, including a recent $1.1 million Listeria judgment. For more information or, if you are a member of the media and would like to view a copy of the complaint, contact Cody Moore at 1-206-407-2200 or cmoore@marlerclark.com.

[1] Colorado El Paso County District Court # 2011CV5007; Colorado Arapahoe County District Court # 2011CV1891; Texas Brazoria County District Court #65009; Canadian County District Court #CJ-2011-709; U.S. District Court Maryland #1:11-CV-2810; Federal District Court Oklahoma #11-348SPS; Missouri District Court #4:11-cv-04280-FJG; Dallas County District Court #DC11-13866; Lea County District Court #CV-1011-1074.