The first lawsuit involves the death of nursing home woman, 72-year-old Shirley Mae Almer, who ate a peanut butter product that was delivered to the adult care facility by King Nut Companies. The heir of Almer, Jeffery Almer, has filed suit against both the Virginia-based Peanut Corporation of America and King Nut Company. A five-pound pail of King Nut peanut butter was found in the nursing home that had been recalled by the FDA in connection with the salmonella outbreak.
Jeffery Almer's lawyer is arguing that Shirley Mae Almer's death on December 21 was the direct result of the illness she contracted from the peanut butter. The recall was not announced by PCA and the Federal Food and Drug Administration until January 13 - and by that time, more than 500 people around the country had become ill from the salmonella. Forty-three states were affected by the outbreak, including Virginia.
"This is a very large and significant recall," the lawyer said. "It points to a number of vulnerabilities in our food safety system that require legislation and funding to correct. Consumers should feel concerned and demand a significant overhaul."
The prosecution's argument is that both companies were negligent in training and supervising their employees to prevent such breeches in safety. In addition, the two peanut companies were negligent in their failure to maintain safe conditions for their products and properly test products.
The peanut processing plant is also currently involved in a criminal probe for the salmonella outbreak. In the past, PCA plants have been found to be unsanitary and products have been found to be contaminated. The FDA also stated that national brands of peanut butter are safe to eat.
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