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The Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark announces the filing of the first lawsuit stemming from the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 1,319 people, hospitalized 255 and caused the death of two people in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The suit was filed today in the District Court of Montezuma County, Colorado. The complaint was filed on behalf of Delores, Colo. resident Brian Grubbs against Wal-Mart and an unknown supplier, referred to as “John Doe.” Grubbs is represented by Marler Clark and by Colorado attorney David Woodruff of Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla & Sloane.
The lawsuit states that the Grubbs family purchased raw jalapeno peppers from the Wal-MartSupercenter in Cortez, Colo. in late June, and that Grubbs ate them over the next week. He fell ill on July 3, experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and diarrhea. Over the next several days, Grubbs’ condition continued to worsen; he lost a great deal of weight, was severely dehydrated, and could not walk without assistance. His wife drove him to the NorthernNavajoMedicalCenter in Shiprock, N.M., where he was treated for dehydration and decreased kidney and liver functions. Samples taken at the time later revealed that he was positive for salmonella Saintpaul.
“Consumers believe that retailers like Wal-Mart know the quality and safety of products they sell,” said William Marler, the Grubbs’ attorney. “Retailers benefit from that trust, and must be held accountable for the products they sell.”
The Grubbs family still possessed some of the peppers that Brian Grubbs had consumed, and provided them to authorities. Tests revealed that the peppers were tainted with Salmonella Saintpaul, and provided one of the first reported physical links in the three-month-long search for the source of the outbreak.
Salmonellosis illnesses from the Saintpaul strain began showing up in Texas and New Mexico in late April, and in early June the CDC linked those illnesses to raw tomatoes and issued consumer warnings. Advisories were widened to include foods commonly consumed with tomatoes, such as peppers, cilantro, and onions, then narrowed to raw jalapeno and serrano peppers. On July 30, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the presence of salmonella Saintpaul at a farm in Mexico, both in irrigation water and on produce. The investigation is being continued by the FDA.
Source: Marler Clark