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Walmart Settles 23 Civil Cases Linked to Listeria-Tainted Cantaloupe

Walmart Stores Inc. has settled 23 civil cases linked to Listeria-tainted cantaloupe it sold that came from Jensen Farms in Colorado. There are still 40 civil cases pending, which were filed by Walmart customers or relatives of customers who died in the 2011 outbreak.

Bill Marler, a food safety attorney with Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm which underwrites Food Safety News, represents 46 of the 66 people who filed lawsuits in the aftermath of the outbreak.

Details of the settlements between Walmart and plaintiffs in the 23 civil cases were not released, and those who will receive payments agreed not to share any financial information.

“We’re pleased that both sides could come together to resolve the case,” Marler was quoted as saying. “While we can’t discuss the details or terms of the (Walmart) settlement, we are pleased with the resolution, which was in everyone’s best interest.”

Walmart is now no longer involved in litigation over the Jensen Farms cantaloupe, he added. However, cases remain pending against the food safety auditing firm of Primus Group Inc, distributor Frontera Produce and other retailers that sold the cantaloupe. Also, the Jensens are suing Primus.

Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen owned Jensen Farms in Holly, CO, where they grew the cantaloupe that sickened at least 147 people with Listeria and killed more than 30, making it one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.

The case was a landmark in foodborne illness litigation, becoming one of the first instances in which food producers faced criminal charges for their contaminated food. The Jensens were sentenced in January to five years probation, six months home detention, and $150,000 each in restitution fees to victims.

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