Marler Clark, Families of Those Sickened in 2011, Outraged to See Another Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupes

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Family members of victims of a 2011 Listeria outbreak traced to contaminated cantaloupes that resulted in 141 illnesses and dozens of deaths respond to a Salmonella outbreak traced to cantaloupes nearly one year later.

Has nothing been learned? Is anyone listening? Are more deaths to be accepted as business as usual?
- Kathleen Buchanan

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and several state and local public health agencies announced that a multistate Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak had been traced to cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana. As of August 17, at least 141 people had been identified as infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in 20 states. At least 31 people had been hospitalized due to the severity of their Salmonella infections and 2 Kentucky residents had died.

Attorney Bill Marler represents dozens of the 147 families impacted by last year’s Listeria outbreak traced to contaminated cantaloupe sold by Jensen Farms as well as individuals who have become ill with Salmonella infections during this most recent outbreak. “Looking back on my career representing victims of foodborne illness, I’m struck by the fact that we used to see outbreak after outbreak linked to ground beef every summer. Then it was leafy greens. Now it’s cantaloupe. The food vehicles associated with outbreaks may have changed, but the suffering of the victims has not. It’s time for the entire food industry to put safety ahead of profits.”

Some of Marler’s clients whose lives were forever changed after the 2011 cantaloupe Listeria outbreak echoed his sentiments:

"I can't believe that as we near the anniversary of my mother's death from eating Listeria contaminated cantaloupe that we are looking again at illnesses and deaths from cantaloupe. And, this is coming on the heels of another widespread cantaloupe recall from Listeria that is still ongoing. Has nothing been learned? Is anyone listening? Are more deaths to be accepted as business as usual?

"Congress has its head so deep in the sand of denial that they can't hear our voices warning them. So I understand now, more than ever, the need for louder noise on the part of the informed to drag our government leaders out and make them hear what's at stake. Americans shouldn't have to lose a family member to foodborne illness to become aware of or understand the importance of this issue.

"The loss of 37 lives last year due to Jensen Farm's negligence, in the largest foodborne death toll in a hundred years, is the tip of the possible iceberg should a huge farm with wider distribution make similar mistakes and flood our nations markets with deadly produce on an even larger scale."

  • Kathleen Buchanan


"I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. My heart goes out to the families and the victims of this latest cantaloupe food borne illness. California and Colorado have strengthened their food safety standards especially for cantaloupe. The problem still exists for the 'bad actors' in the industry.

"My dad, a WWII Purple Heart winner, died from eating Listeria-tainted cantaloupe last year. Have we learned nothing? This September the families of the Jensen Farms Listeria outbreak are observing a 1-year anniversary. This will not be a joyous time."

  • Paul Schwarz


"Last year, as my mom lay dying of listeria from a Jensen Farms cantaloupe, she prayed that it would never happen to anyone else. She was not normally a litigious person, but joined the lawsuit against Jensen Farms to help effect change.

"You can't imagine how my heart ached when I read that there is now a salmonella outbreak from cantaloupe! Then I got the email from the attorney representing my mom and over 40 others. My heart still aches, but now it is also filled with anger from what our government isn't doing to protect us!"

  • W.B. Jones


"It is as if no one cares. Are they thinking, 'If something goes wrong that it what we have liability insurance for? Just doing business.'

"If one were to take a knife and kill 37 people and injure 147 others that person would be in prison and looking at death. Yet killing people by failing to follow food safety laws is not punished with prison time; even if the results are the same. Mass murder is mass murder."

-Matt Weimer


"It is hard to believe that another outbreak involving cantaloupe is happening again. I have heard of several smaller outbreaks and now this one sickening another 141 people. Did the FDA and Congress not learn a lesson? My daughter is the youngest survivor of the listeria outbreak from last fall that sickened 147 people and killed over 35 people. She was born premature at week 29. Her life was changed forever when I ate contaminated cantaloupe. When is it going to end? Why do more people have to endure this terrible experience?"

  • Michelle Wakely-Paciorek


"While the 'Melon Growers Celebrate Rebound' according to the Gazette newspaper, August 19,2012, a new outbreak of disease caused by tainted cantaloupe is occurring in the Midwest. This is devastating news. When I think about the pain and suffering my husband endured for five and a half months, my heart breaks for the new victims. When is this nightmare going to stop?"

  • Penny Hauser


"With your good work on behalf of the victims and their families, hopefully the seemingly increasing incidences of these outbreaks will be stopped. The government's motivation may be to protect the businesses, but they would be better served concerning themselves with the future viability of the entire industry and not the individual growers and distributors in this particular outbreak. Continued outbreaks are going to kill this industry, and the only way to save the industry is to put the light squarely on the industry, bring it into the light with a total reexamination of how things are done in its entirety. More light, not less will save the industry and those that consume the product.

"Keep up your good work, Bill; these families will need your expertise to help them through their horrible days."

  • Bill Wells


Marler concluded, "No one's family should have to experience what these families did and what others are going through right now."

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