ST. PAUL, Minn. – The law firm of Pritzger Hageman filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a 50-year-old Nebraska man alleging he developed a Listeria infection after eating contaminated chicken salad that was part of an ongoing product recall.
The lawsuit filed in the US District Court of Minnesota names as defendants Tip Top Poultry Inc., E.A. Sween Company, The Suter Company Inc., and Sam’s West Inc. (doing business as Sam’s Club). According to Pritzger Hageman, Tip Top is an ingredient supplier to The Suter Company, which supplies chicken products to E.A. Sween. Sween then processes and the sells the chicken salad to retail outlets such as Sam’s Club.
The complaint states that on Aug. 13 and Sept. 4, Craig Moraski’s wife bought 2-lb. tubs of Member’s Mark Chicken Salad from a Sam’s Club store in Papillion, Nebraska. She received an email notification on Oct. 1 that the product was part of a major recall issued by Tip Top Poultry.
On Aug. 21, Marietta, Georgia-based Tip Top Poultry had launched a recall of approximately 135,810 lbs. of fully cooked chicken products on concerns of Listeria contamination. The company expanded the recall on Sept. 30 to include all cooked, diced or shredded ready-to-eat chicken products produced between Jan. 21 and Sept. 24. The company updated the list of affected products again on Oct. 9.
Since Aug. 24, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention has reported 24 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria across 13 states. Two individuals have died, and 22 individuals have been hospitalized. The investigation is ongoing, and the agency has not identified a specific food item, grocery store or restaurant chain as the source of the infections.
Still, the lawsuit states Moraski’s consumption of one or more of the chicken salad products caused his listeriosis.
He began experiencing symptoms of Listeria infection on the evening of Oct. 1. He was hospitalized on Oct. 5 after testing positive for Listeria. Symptoms of Listeria infection can include fever, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, constipation and muscle aches. In severe cases, Listeria can spread to the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Symptoms of severe listeriosis include stiff neck, confusion, headache and loss of balance.
Moraski already was affected by polycystic kidney disease which left him with only 20 percent kidney function, according to the complaint. At the time he was sickened, Moraski received news that he was eligible for a kidney transplant.
He is seeking a judgment of more than $75,000 with interest and costs.
This outbreak may be far reaching — CDC noted that Public Health Agency of Canada also was investigating an outbreak of Listeria infections in several Canadian provinces linked to Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken.
It was the Public Health Agency of Canada that notified the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) after whole genome sequencing revealed the type of Listeria making people sick in Canada is closely related genetically to the Listeria sickening people in the US.
As of Oct. 2, there have been seven confirmed Listeria infections reported in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Also, on Oct. 2, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued an updated recall notice for imported cooked, diced chicken products sold in Canada. Among the companies cited were Sysco Co., Reuven International and Tip Top Poultry.