Jensen Farms, the company that grew and shipped the cantaloupes that caused the large Listeria outbreak last summer has filed for bankruptcy. The United States Bankruptcy Court in Colorado has approved the motion, and a date has been set for filing of claims.
All people who assert a claim based on the outbreak of listeriosis must file it by 5:00 pm Eastern Time on or before September 14, 2012. It’s important that anyone who was affected by this outbreak file a claim to receive compensation for their injuries. The court is ordering that Jensen Farms make available $4 million in settlement money, from its insurance policy, insurers of the equipment the facility used, and from the third-party auditor who failed to discover contamination at the plant just before the outbreak occurred.
The company faces seven personal injury lawsuits and 12 wrongful death suits. That outbreak was one of the deadliest in U.S. history, killing at least 35 people and sicking 146 in 28 states before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the outbreak over on December 8, 2011 and released its final report. The outbreak began on September 2, 2011, when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified the CDC about seven patients who were sick with the same strain of Listeria bacteria.
This is the final outbreak toll, by state: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (4), Colorado (40 with 8 deaths), Idaho (2), Indiana (3, 1 death), Iowa (1, 1 miscarriage), Kansas (11, 3 deaths),
Louisiana (2, both deaths), Maryland (1 case, a death), Missouri (7, 3 deaths), Montana (1), Nebraska (6, 1 death), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15, 5 deaths), New York (2, both deaths), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (12, 1 death), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18, 2 deaths), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), Wyoming (4, 1 death).
In addition to these cases, seven pregnant women became ill, and three infants were born with listeriosis.
Unsanitary conditions on the farm were found to be the source of the bacteria. In January, Jensen Farms was fined for housing its migrant worker in unsanitary and crowded conditions. Just before the outbreak occurred, Primus Labs gave the facility very high marks, leading to an investigation into the third-party auditing system by the United States House of Representatives.