Processing Magazine

Wal-Mart reaches out-of-court agreement with 23 claimants in listeria outbreak cases

May 19, 2014
<photocredit>Daniel Aguilar/Getty Images/Thinkstock</photocredit>

Supermarket chain Wal-Mart has settled 23 civil cases linked to the 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people who consumed contaminated cantaloupe sold by the company. The claims have been settled out of court, according to Bill Marler, the claimants' attorney, quoted by the Associated Press.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed but Marler revealed that his firm had filed lawsuits on behalf of 28 families of victims of the outbreak and another 17 who were sickened but survived. The legal action was launched against defendants in 12 different states, he said.

The listeria outbreak was traced to Jensen Farms in Colorado and both owners, brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. The conditions on the farm were cited as a direct cause of the listeria contamination. The owners were sentenced to five years of probation and six months of home detention, as well as 100 hours of community service. Their company filed for bankruptcy about a year after the start of the outbreak.

Commenting on the settlements, Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove told the Associated Press that the company took customers' safety very seriously and explained that contaminated cantaloupe was removed from Wal-Mart's shelves as soon as the company found out about the outbreak. However, families of some of the victims accused the supermarket chain of reacting too slowly.