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$12 Million Settlement Recommended in Peanut Case

A federal judge is recommending the approval of a $12 million settlement to compensate those sickened and the families of people killed in the 2009 nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to peanuts and peanut products sold by Peanut Corporation of America.

Judge Michael Urbanski released the recommendation yesterday in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the Peanut Corporation is headquartered. The settlement will help pay more than 120 personal injury claims, including the families of the nine people who died and 45 children who were made seriously ill. In total, the outbreak sickened over 700 people across the U.S. and thousands of peanut products were recalled.

“It’s gratifying that the Judge had such positive comments about the proposed settlements and the efforts we made to obtain a just result for our clients,” said Bruce Clark, a partner at Marler Clark, a Seattle-based law firm representing 50 of the claimants. “In the end we were able to fashion a good outcome from an awful situation.”

The settlements reportedly include $2 million for a West Virginia man and almost $1 million for the family of an Alabama woman. Most of the claims are for under $100,000.

The terms of the settlement must next be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

Vermont resident Gabrielle Meunier, whose seven-year-old son was hospitalized for six days after eating contaminated peanut butter, says the $12 million agreement for all the victims is not enough.

“I feel that the $12 million insurance policy allotted to the victims was not nearly enough,” said Meunier in an email response to Food Safety News. “I feel that a company distributing that amount of food and food products should have had a minimum $50 million policy that could be solely allotted to victims of gross negligence.”
 
“CEOs and owners of large food companies that distribute their products nationwide need to be held personally accountable for the safety of their food,” added Meunier. “Due diligence in food safety is imperative and they need to understand that they will be held accountable and criminally liable for anything less than this.”

The Meunier family is set to receive an undisclosed amount from the

settlement.

© Food Safety News