Peanut Salmonella Outbreak Leads to $12M Settlement

A $12 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge to be distributed among victims of a massive food poisoning outbreak that started nearly two years ago as a result of salmonella contamination at a peanut processing plant. 

The peanut butter salmonella settlement would address personal injury claims brought by about 120 people, including nine wrongful death lawsuits. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Urbanski recommended approval of the settlement this week in Richmond. The next step is for the settlement to be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

The lawsuits were filed against Peanut Corp. of America, based in Lynchburg, which has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a result of the nationwide food poisoning outbreak. The amount of money each plaintiff will receive from the settlement varies greatly, from $2 million to under $50,000. Most will get less than $100,000.

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The 2008-2009 peanut food poisoning outbreak was linked to illnesses in more than 700 people. The contamination was traced back to unsanitary plant conditions, and it has been alleged that PCA was aware of the problem but distributed the tainted products anyway.

Emails seized by federal agents appear to show that Stewart Parnell, President of PCA, was aware that peanut butter and ingredients they produced may be contaminated with salmonella and ordered that shipments continue to go out. As a result, the contaminated peanut ingredients were used in millions of pounds of food sold and distributed throughout the United States.

Some victims are also pursuing compensation through food poisoning lawsuits against the distributors and food manufacturers who used peanut ingredients from Peanut Corporation of America, such as Kellogg Co., whose Keebler Peanut Butter Crackers have been linked to several cases of salmonella food poisoning.

Salmonella, also known as salmonellosis, is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States, producing symptoms like high fever, persistent diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, severe abdominal cramps and pain. The first symptoms usually begin to surface between 12 hours and 3 days after consuming the salmonella infected food.

For most healthy adults, salmonella symptoms pass within a few days to a week. However, in some cases severe illness can persist for longer and lead to more serious health problems. Those who are most susceptible to serious injury include the elderly, infants and those with chronic conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes or weak immune systems.


  • KimmoraApril 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I was also a of the peanut butter saminolla poisioning in 2008 and had to terminate a pregnacy because of it shouldn't I be.compensated too. Can I be compensated?

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