Salmonella bacteria are the most common cause of food-borne illness in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year approximately 1.4 million Americans get sick with salmonellosis, and about 600 of them die as a result. Oftentimes, salmonella contamination leads to large-scale outbreaks of salmonellosis. For instance, in 2001, a toddler and an elderly man died and hundreds of people became sick after consuming salmonella-tainted Viva brand cantaloupe. In 2007, two persons were hospitalized and 152 people became ill as a result of eating ConAgra turkey pot pies contaminated with the same bacteria. And two recent salmonella outbreaks led to the recalls of Malt-O-Meal dry cereals and Aunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle mixes in April 2008.
In these and many other food-related defective product cases, the parties responsible for the contamination may be sued for their failure to protect consumers from potentially deadly bacterial infections. These companies may be found liable because all food manufacturers and distributors have a responsibility to ensure the highest standards of safety and quality. In cases where a company negligently violates this obligation, those affected may be entitled to compensation.
For instance, in 2004, Coronet Foods of West Virginia reached an undisclosed multi-million dollar settlement with more than 90 people who became ill after consuming salmonella-tainted tomatoes distributed by this company. In 2000, Sun Orchard agreed to pay $1.4 million in damages to 55 people who fell ill after drinking Sun Orchard orange juice. Perhaps the best-known salmonella case is the 1996 Wyndham Hotel outbreak, for which the hotel paid $25.2 million to more than 1,000 people whose salmonellosis was linked to contaminated food prepared at the hotel’s restaurant.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of a food-borne salmonella infection, contact the law offices of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC at (844) 794-7402 to learn more about your legal rights and possible compensation.
Salmonellosis: Symptoms and Complications
Salmonella is a large group of bacteria that has been known to cause human illness for more than 100 years. These bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of many animals and birds, and are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with microscopic pieces of animal feces. As a result, the tainted foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk and eggs. However, all foods, including fruit juice and packaged cereals, can become contaminated.
The first signs of salmonellosis usually appear 12 to 72 hours after infection, when the affected person develops diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In most cases, the illness lasts four to seven days, and patients usually recover without a specific treatment. However, if the diarrhea is especially severe, the affected person may require rehydration with intravenous fluids. The use of antibiotics to treat salmonellosis is a controversial subject. Some doctors favor this treatment, but others reject it as futile due to the fact that many varieties of salmonella are resistant to antibiotics.
While salmonellosis usually does not have long-term consequences, in some individuals salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the blood stream and other areas of the body. This can cause death, unless the patient is promptly treated with special antibiotics. In addition, one in 10,000 salmonella-infected persons develops a condition called Reiter’s syndrome, which is a combination of arthritis, irritation of the eyes and painful urination. This illness can last from months to years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is very difficult to treat.
Salmonellosis: Legal Recourse
If you develop symptoms associated with a salmonella infection, you should contact your physician and notify the local health department. Your doctor can prescribe pain relievers and fever reducers to help manage the symptoms, and he or she will also submit your stool sample for analysis to definitively diagnose salmonellosis.
Precise diagnosis is important because it helps the experienced Pensacola, Florida lawyers at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC determine if your illness was a result of negligence on the part of the company making and/or distributing the product that made you sick. If this is the case, you could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages.
Contact the law offices of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC at (844) 794-7402 to discuss your case and learn more about possible compensation.