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Attorney Plans More Lawsuits In Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak

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Cantaloupe (credit: CBS)

Cantaloupe (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- An attorney plans to file dozens more lawsuits for victims of contaminated cantaloupe from Jensen Farms two years ago.

In the Center for Disease Control’s final tally, the listeria outbreak from contaminated cantaloupe sickened 147 people in 28 states, up from the previous tally of 146.

Attorney Bill Marler said the next batch of lawsuits will be against retailers who sold the product, the distributor Jensen used and a food safety laboratory company.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is overseeing a criminal investigation of the contamination.

Jensen Farms, which declared bankruptcy, and two other companies, paid $3.8 million recently to settle an earlier set of lawsuits. They will not be targets of the new round of cases.

A court document states Jensen obtained $2 million from its insurance company, food safety auditor Bio Food obtained $500,000 from its insurance company and Pepper Equipment Co. contributed the remaining $1.3 million of the $3.8 million.

Marler, a nationally known food liability attorney in Seattle, said the new cases will be filed because two years of efforts to reach settlements have been unsuccessful.

Defendants will be Walmart, King Soopers, City Market, as well as distributor Frontera Produce of Edinburg, Tex. and Primus Labs of Santa Maira, Calif., he said. Primus reportedly subcontracted the safety audit to Bio Food.

The lawsuits will be filed in numerous state courts in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and several other states, Marler said.

He said in May medical bills of persons who became sick allegedly from the cantaloupe totaled $14 million at that point.

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