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Cantaloupe Death Brings Another Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in Louisiana’s 26th Judicial District Court in Bossier Parish on behalf of the estate of Francis Gilbert, who died after eating Colorado-grown cantaloupe last year that was contaminated with Listeria.

The lawsuit, brought by the personal representative of the estate, Kathleen Buchanan, names the cantaloupe distributor, Frontera Produce, the third party auditor for grower Jensen Farms, Primus Group and the retail grocery chain that sold the cantaloupe, Kroger.

The complaint alleges that Frances Gilbert consumed Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe purchased at a Kroger store that was grown by Jensen Farms and distributed by Frontera Produce, and that the cantaloupe caused her to become infected with Listeria and suffer injury and death as a direct result.

Frances Gilbert was a resident of Bossier City, Louisiana and in August and September 2011 she purchased and ate Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford brand cantaloupe.

Ms. Gilbert began feeling ill on September 14, 2011 with vomiting, diarrhea and general malaise. She began to feel worse and was transferred to the hospital where she tested positive for Listeria.

Ms. Gilbert’s condition continued to deteriorate until she died on September 22, 2011. Medical bills were in excess of $50,000. She leaves behind husband, Allen Gilbert, daughter, Kathleen Buchanan and son, James Gilbert.

“The grower, Jensen Farms, has filed for bankruptcy. It is now the responsibility of those in the entire chain of distribution to be responsible for shipping, inspecting and selling a tainted product,” said, William Marler, managing partner the food safety law firm of Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News. “The bottom line is that in the United States today you should not die from eating a cantaloupe.”

Gilbert’s death was one of two in Louisiana stemming from the 2011 Listeria outbreak that was the most deadly foodborne outbreak in a century. The outbreak included 147 people in 28 states.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta said the Listeria outbreak was directly responsible for 33 deaths and was a contributing factor in another 10 deaths.

Marler is the attorney for 44 victims and their families from the 2011 Listeria outbreak. In representing the Gilbert estate, Marler Clark is teamed with the Louisiana law firm of McMichael, Medlin, D’Anna, Wedgeworth & Lafargue.

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