One of the first food poisoning lawsuits filed against Peanut Corporation of America as a result of the recent Salmonella typhimurium outbreak has been amended to add Kellogg Co. as a defendant, as they manufactured the peanut butter crackers which caused the plaintiff’s illness.
The lawsuit was originally filed on January 20, 2009, in the U.S. District Court in Georgia, against Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which is the company which sold thousands of pounds of salmonella contaminated peanut butter, peanut paste and chopped peanuts that were used by hundreds of companies like Kellogg in over 1,500 different products.
The peanut butter cracker lawsuit was filed by a Vermont family on behalf of their 7 year old son who was hospitalized for five days with the same strain of salmonella associated with a nationwide outbreak that has sickened over 550 people and caused 8 deaths.
The boy fell ill on November 25, 2008 after eating Keebler Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich crackers which were manufactured by Kellogg with peanut paste produced by Peanut Corporation of America at their Georgia processing plant that is at the center of the outbreak.
According to the National Law Journal, the family’s food poisoning lawyer amended their peanut salmonella lawsuit last week to add Kellogg Co. as a defendant after it became clear that Peanut Corporation of America may not have enough assets and insurance coverage to satisfy the hundreds of potential salmonella poisoning lawsuits they are going to face in the coming months.
Hartford Casualty Insurance Company, which is the insurer for Peanut Corporation of America, has filed court documents seeking to limit their liability exposure for the actions of the peanut processor. The combined verdicts throughout the United States will likely exceed the available insurance coverage, which is reported to only be about $30 million.
Last week the FDA reported that Peanut Corporation of America was aware that their products could be contaminated with Salmonella typhimurium before they ever allowed them to be distributed to consumers throughout the Unites States. Between the peanut food poisoning lawsuits that will be filed consumers and a pending criminal investigation into the salmonella outbreak, many expect that the privately held company will be forced to liquidate at some point.
According to the amended peanut butter cracker lawsuit, Kellogg Co. could be held jointly liable for the boy’s medical bills and other damages for failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the ingredients they used in their Austin brand and Keebler peanut butter crackers.