October 20, 2018

Salmonella Lawyers Obtain $6.5 Million Verdict in Lawsuit against Foster Farms

The Salmonella lawyers at Pritzker Hageman obtained a $6.5 million verdict in a lawsuit against Foster Poultry Farms (Foster Farms). The firm’s client is a 5-year-old child who suffered brain damage after contracting a Salmonella infection. The child was part of the Foster Farms Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak the CDC investigated in 2014. The jury attributed 30% of the fault to Foster Farms and 70% to the family for their handling and preparation of the chicken. The family’s net verdict is $1.95 million.

Foster Farms Salmonella Lawsuit

The case was tried in Arizona federal court (2:15-cv-02587-DLR). The lawyers on the case were Eric Hageman, Brendan Flaherty, David Coyle, and Kate Flom. The family was featured in the Frontline investigation documentary “The Trouble with Chicken.”

The little boy had to undergo brain surgery after he developed a massive brain abscess that doctors determined was triggered by bacterial meningitis caused by a Salmonella infection. Fluid removed from the abscess during surgery revealed Salmonella bacteria that matched one of the strains in the Foster Farm’s outbreak.

That outbreak sickened at least 634 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico. Fifteen percent of those patients developed blood infections; in most Salmonella outbreaks, only about 5% of patients develop this serious complication.

Among the 350 ill persons interviewed, 260 said they ate chicken prepared at home before they got sick. Among those who knew the brand of chicken they ate, 152, or 87%, said it was Foster Farms brand chicken or another brand that was likely produced by that company.

Testing conducted by the Washington State Public Health Laboratories identified one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in one unopened package of raw Foster Farms Chicken that was collected from a patient’s home in that state. Two samples of leftover rotisserie chicken collected by the California Department of Public Health from the home of two patients yielded one of the outbreak strains. And six of the seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were isolated from raw chicken samples that were collected from the three Foster Farms establishments in California.

Attorney Eric Hageman

Attorney Eric Hageman represents clients sickened with Salmonella infections. Contact him by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 1-612-338-0202..

Attorney Eric Hageman was interviewed by Bloomberg and said, “They hammered away that this chicken had the stamp of approval from the USDA, and that it therefore couldn’t be adulterated.” While most chicken products are contaminated with Salmonella, Hageman said that Foster Farms “knew its product had a dangerous pathogen and did nothing about it. The tests showed that the chicken had more than 200 times more of this Salmonella than found at other poultry plants. The jury in this case said enough is enough. Clean up your act.”

This case is groundbreaking and sets precedent for food safety. Even though the USDA doesn’t consider Salmonella to be an adulterant on raw chicken, and that the bacteria can be killed through cooking, these lawyers showed that chicken producers can be held responsible for this contamination.

The jury found that Foster Farms was negligent and that the outbreak was linked to the company’s chicken through microbiological and epidemiological evidence. As stated above, the jury attributed 30% of the fault to Foster Farms and 70% to the family for their handling and preparation of the chicken.

Hageman added that the verdict “showed that Foster Farms cannot simply hide behind USDA’s ‘approval of its chicken.'” And, he continued, “the verdict is a rejection of the argument that poultry companies can produce contaminated product and then blame consumers who get sick from eating it.”

Bad Bug Law Team | Pritzker Law Firm

If you or a loved one have been sickened with a Salmonella infection, contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully helps and represents people hurt by adulterated foods in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for foodborne illness patients and their families, including the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are often interviewed as experts on the topic by major news outlets including Bloomberg, the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.

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