A former employee of the Peanut Corporation of America has reportedly been subpoenaed to testify before a Federal Grand Jury in Georgia next month, causing widespread speculation over whether criminal charges will be formally brought against PCA founder and CEO Stewart Parnell. PCA peanuts were the source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak among 714 people from 46 states in 2008 and 2009. At least 9 people died after contracting Salmonella from peanut products made with PCA products.
During a Congressional investigation that followed the PCA Salmonella outbreak, internal emails were uncovered which allegedly show that Parnell had acute knowledge his company was shipping Salmonella-contaminated peanuts. Family members testified before the House committee on Energy and Commerce, asking the government to prosecute Parnell for his role in the Salmonella outbreak.
In February, 2011, they held a press conference, again asking the federal government to bring criminal charges against Parnell.
“I am very happy that the government seems to be moving forward with a case against Stewart Parnell,” said William Marler, an attorney who represented victims of the PCA Salmonella outbreak. “But I am very disappointed that other companies that manufacture peanut and peanut butter products did not learn from his mistakes.”
Marler Clark filed 41 lawsuits against PCA on behalf of victims of the Salmonella outbreak. Marler Clark clients who became ill with Salmonella during the outbreak had consumed such products as peanut butter and peanut butter crackers. The firm also filed a lawsuit against King Nut on behalf of the family of a victim who died as a result of Salmonella. King Nut used PCA peanuts in its products.
Marler noted that a 38-person Salmonella outbreak was recently traced to peanut and other nut-butter products made by New Mexico-based Sunland, Inc. Testing by Federal investigators revealed the presence of Salmonella Bredeney in raw peanuts from the Sunland peanut processing facility. Environmental samples taken from the building also showed the presence of Salmonella Bredeney. Washington State investigators found Salmonella Bredeney from an opened jar of Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter collected from a case-patient’s home.
“Maybe the reality that food company executives can face criminal charges will sink in and we’ll finally start learning from history instead of repeating it,” Marler concluded.
BACKGROUND: The Marler Clark law firm has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness, including victims of the ConAgra (Peter Pan), PCA and Sunland/Trader Joe’s Salmonella outbreaks. For more information, contact Bill Marler at (206) 346-1888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.