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Listeria in Cantaloupe: Lawsuit to be Filed

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 16, 2011 6:49 AM

A Colorado family is expected to file a Listeria lawsuit over the infectious bacteria this week. The lawsuit will be filed against Jensen Farms, who voluntary started recalling their fruit after fears over the possibility of Listeria in their cantaloupe increased, according to the Denver Post.

The couple, Charles and Tammy Palmer, purchased a cantaloupe at a local Walmart in Colorado Springs in mid-August.

The cantaloupe was from Jensen Farms, according to the Palmers' attorney. Charles Palmer ate the fruit over several days before he became ill on August 30th, the Denver Post reports.

His conditioned worsened on August 31st, and Palmer was rushed to the hospital. He tested positive for Listeria, reports the Denver Post.

Listeria can cause severe illnesses, and sometimes death. Symptoms of the infection can include fever and muscle aches. Listeria-related illnesses are contracted by eating contaminated foods.

The Palmers are now suing Walmart as well as Jensen Farms. They say that the farm and the store are liable because they sold defective food, the Denver Post reports. They say that Charles Palmer's illness was the direct result of his cantaloupe consumption.

Food poisoning cases often fall under the umbrella of product liability law. Under products liability law, manufacturers are liable if their product is defective and contribute to someone's injuries. Essentially, the Palmers are alleging that the cantaloupe itself was defective because it was tainted with Listeria bacteria.

And, under products liability law, liability can fall on the shoulders of anybody who is in the product's distribution chain. This is why Walmart is named as a defendant. They sold the Palmers the cantaloupe, putting them directly into the chain of distribution.

While the Palmers' Listeria lawsuit may be the first, if more illnesses occur it likely won't be the last. Is there Listeria in your cantaloupe? There might be, if your cantaloupe came from Jensen Farms. The FDA has announced a recall of the farm's fruit this week.

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