A Texas family has been awarded $1.1 million in damages as part of a default judgment in a wrongful death lawsuit filed over listeria food poisoning from contaminated celery.
The listeriosis poisoning lawsuit was filed in January, by the family of Hermillo Castellano, who was one of four people killed last June after eating contaminated celery manufactured by Sangar Produce & Processing Co.
After no representative from the now defunct manufacturer appeared in court to defend the case, Texas District Judge Barbara Nellermoe entered a default judgment and awarded $1.1 million in damages.
In October 2010, a Sangar produce recall was initiated for all of the company’s products distributed that year and the company was forced to shut down.
State officials say that they believe at least 10 people, all elderly, contracted Listeriosis from contaminated celery produced by Sangar; nine of which were confirmed to be the same strain of listeria that state investigators found all over the company’s San Antonio facility. Company officials disputed the claim, saying their own labs found no contamination, but FDA investigators also found numerous deficiencies.
According to allegations raised in the listeriosis wrongful death lawsuit, the company failed to follow proper food safety regulations and guidelines, leading to the outbreak. The lawsuit also accused the company of breach of implied warranty because it distributed food that was not safe to eat.
Listeria infections, also known as listeriosis, pose a particular risk for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. For pregnant women, illness from Listeria bacteria can cause miscarriages and still births. The fatality rate associated with listeriosis is about 25%.
Blood tests are usually required to diagnose listeriosis, which can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of listeriosis include muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever. If the bacteria spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and nervous system, it could cause meningitis and other complications.