Trader Joe’s Listeria Lawsuit Filed in Chicago


Respected attorneys Bill Marler and Drew Falkenstein of Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, have filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois on behalf of Vladimir Sokhatskiy, a Lake County resident sickened with Listeria monocytogenes that lead to meningitis. The Listeria infection is linked to the recall of Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad with Chives from prepared foods manufacturer Lansal, Inc.

On June 8, 2014, defendant Lansal, Inc. recalled 304 six-ounce plastic containers of Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad with Chives that it had manufactured and distributed for sale at defendant Trader Joe’s locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The recall occurred because defendant Lansal, Inc. had detected the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of the recalled product during a routine testing by the company.

On May 19, 2014, Lansal, Inc. also recalled 14,860 pounds of hummus and dip products due to contamination by Listeria monocytogenes. The hummus and dip products were produced at the same facility as the recalled Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad with Chives products.

Vladimir Sokhatskiy consumed the Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad in early June 2014. The 57 year old is a resident of Lake County, Illinois. In 2005, Vladimir was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, for which he began chemotherapy. As a result, he had a suppressed immune system, making him highly susceptible to bacterial infection.

Several days after consuming the Egg White Salad, Mr. Sokhatskiy developed a fever and headache. His symptoms worsened and he was hospitalized at Highland Park Hospital with a fever of 104. Symptoms continued to worsen after being released and he had to return for further hospitalization. He underwent a lumbar puncture for testing of his cerebrospinal fluid. Test results showed that he had developed bacterial meningitis. Shortly thereafter, tests would confirm that the bacteria responsible for causing his meningitis condition was Listeria monocytogenes. Mr. Sokhatskiy was hospitalized in a nursing and rehabilitation facility until June 25, 2014. He continues in his treatment for Listeriosis, receiving home and health care and intravenous antibiotics, which will continue through at least the end of July 2014.

“It is clear that Lansal, Inc. had a problem with products produced in May,” said R. Drew Falkenstein, who has been litigating major food outbreak cases for over a decade. “Listeria is a devastating illness for people with other medical problems. Mr. Sokhatskiy had difficult medical circumstances to begin with, and he is lucky to be alive after consuming this contaminated product.”

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1,000 cases result in death.

General recommendations for preventing Listeria include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).