July 12, 2024

Caramel Apple Listeria Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of NM Mother and Newborn Baby

A lawsuit stemming from the caramel apple Listeria outbreak has been filed on behalf of a New Mexico woman and her newborn son. The complaint names as defendants apple supplier Bidart Brothers Apple Packing Inc. of Shafter, Calif. and retailer Smith’s Food & Drug Centers Inc., of Delaware which operates stores in New Mexico.

GavelsThe law firm Pritzker Hageman filed the suit January 09, 2015 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The case number is 1:15-CV-00019-KBM-SMV local co-counsel is J. Edward Hollington of Albuquerque.

According to the complaint, a family member of the plaintiff, Cathy Jones, purchased several prepackaged, commercially prepared caramel apples from a Smith’s store at 4016 Louisiana Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque in late October, 2014. Ms. Jones, who was pregnant at the time, ate one of the apples.

By November 7, 2014 she had developed symptoms of a Listeria infection, which include fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea and upset stomach, and sought medical attention at the Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque. The next day, she delivered her baby several months prematurely.

Tests on her newborn boy revealed that he, too, had contracted a Listeria infection. The baby remained hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Lovelace for over four weeks.

Doctors determined Ms. Jones’ Listeria infection caused the premature birth. “This tragedy is heartbreaking and sadly, was preventable,” said food safety attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened with listeriosis in other outbreaks. 

The Jones baby is one of three New Mexico newborn boys who developed infections in the womb after their mothers ate contaminated caramel apples. And there are others.

Of the 32 people in 11 states who have been sickened by the apples, 10 are related to pregnancy including one case where the fetus did not survive.

Pregnant women are ten times more likely than the general population to contract a Listeria infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If they do, the infection can pass to her fetus causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, listeriosis or Listeria meningitis in the infant, or death.

Bidart Brothers has issued a recall for all Gala and Granny Smith apples produced at its Shafter, Calif. plant during 2014. But little information has been made public on what brand names the apples were sold under and which store carried them. Happy Apples, California Snack Foods, and Merb’s Candies have all issued recalls for caramel apples that were sold at Sam’s Club, Walmart, Safeway and Kroger stores.  In Minnesota, Kitchen Cravings and Carnival brand apples were associated with the outbreak. They were sold at Kwik Trip, Mike’s Discount Foods and Cub Foods stores.

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