Lawsuit names Wal-Mart, Jensen Farms in Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe illness

The first lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a victim of a Listeria-contaminated Rocky Ford cantaloupe.

After a barrage of Listeria warnings, cantaloupe scares and recalls, the first lawsuit has been filed in the ongoing Rocky Ford cantaloupes Listeria contamination outbreak.

Jensen Farms, the Colorado-based grower of the recalled Rocky Ford cantaloupes, is facing their first lawsuit of the Listeria outbreak, but they are not alone. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is also named in the suit, filed on Thursday by Colorado Springs residents Charles and Tammy Palmer.

"Wal-Mart, Jensen Farms, and other food companies have a public responsibility to all consumers to sell and distribute food that is free and clear of dangerous adulterants such as Listeria--no exceptions, " said the Palmer family's attorney, William Marler, Food Safety News (FSN) reported (Note: Marler also publishes the Food Safety News). "In this case, a lapse in food safety assurance has relegated an innocent man to a hospital bed for a long time."

The man referred to by Marler is 71-year-old Charles Palmer, who became ill with listeriosis last month, first noting the symptoms on Aug. 30. Palmer had purchased a Rocky Ford cantaloupe at a Wal-Mart in Colorado Springs around Aug. 17. The morning after noticing the first symptoms, including a headache and fatigue, he was found unresponsive, and has remained in the hospital since being taken there at that time. He has also been tested for the strain of Listeria involved in the current outbreak, and tested positive. His illness was one of those which prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment investigation into the Listeria outbreak.

The incubation period for listeriosis can be up to 70 days, FSN reported, thus leading to speculation on whether some people may have eaten the contaminated cantaloupe, and just have not yet started to have symptoms of listeriosis. Additionally, FSN indicated that some states with Listeria cases and deaths have not yet completed DNA fingerprinting that could ultimately link more individuals with listeriosis to the current Rocky Ford cantaloupe Listeria contamination.

Read more about the Rocky Ford cantaloupe recall on Huliq.com:
Cantaloupe recall underway in U.S. due to Listeria contamination

Image: U.S. Food and Drug Administration