Listeria in Cantaloupe Kills 8th Victim

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 23, 2011 6:47 AM

The Listeria death toll continues to rise as eight people have died from the bacterial infection. In response, attorneys around the country are preparing to file more Listeria lawsuits.

In total, the outbreak has sickened 55 people in 14 states.

The CDC has traced the Listeria bacteria to cantaloupe produced by Colorado-based Jensen Farms, CBS News reports. Jensen Farms voluntarily recalled the contaminated fruit, which was shipped from July 29 - Sept. 10 to multiple states.

Attorneys representing victims have stated their intention to file more suits against Jensen Farms.

Factually, the Listeria lawsuits are similar. Victims purchased and consumed cantaloupe produced by Jensen Farms and fell ill. Tests at medical facilities determined that the illness was the result of Listeria bacteria.

Under what legal theory can these victims recover damages?

Finding Listeria in your cantaloupe is not just a case of food poisoning. Cases involving contaminated or unsafe foods often fall under the umbrella of products liability law.

Under products liability law, manufacturers and producers of food may be held liable if their product is unsafe or defective in some way. Victims may be able to recover money to cover the cost of medical expenses and other economic damages caused by the illness.

Were Jensen Farms' cantaloupes defective? It seems likely, especially when considering the number of illnesses and deaths that have been linked to the tainted cantaloupes.

A spokeswoman for the farm said they are "deeply saddened" about the outbreak and that the farm is currently working with food safety experts to determine the exact cause of the contamination. As the Listeria death toll rises, Jensen Farms should expect a rise in the number of Listeria-related lawsuits.

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