For the survivors of those killed and for all those injured in the national outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium, the first good news may occur on Oct. 1st.
That is when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William E. Anderson is set to rule in Lynchburg, VA on a motion setting up a $12 million fund for Salmonella-related bodily injury claims. The money will come from Hartford Insurers, which was the insurance carrier for the now bankrupt Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).
Under the motion, the $12 million will be placed in a fund “to pay the eligible claims arising from an outbreak of Salmonella…” The fund will be walled off from other PCA creditors.
To date, 714 confirmed cases of Salmonella Typhimurium are linked to the outbreak that spread through peanut butter and paste products manufactured by PCA. Illnesses were documented in 46 states and Canada and the Salmonella strain contributed to at least nine deaths.
After the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta worked from Nov. 10, 2008 to Jan. 6, 2009, identifying the unique strain in a multi-state cluster; the Minnesota Department of Health found it in a jar of King Nut peanut butter made by PCA.
Once the link was made to PCA’s Blakely, GA plant, recalls began with commercially distributed peanut butter, but now include over 3900 products made with peanut butter and peanut paste, like cracker sandwiches, ice cream, candy, cakes, and cookies.
PCA has recalled all products made in their Blakely, GA and Plainview, TX facilities since January 1, 2007. PCA is forever shut down.
Because there were deaths and serious injuries involved in a very large outbreak, Seattle attorney Bill Marler sees the $12 million only as a start towards justly compensating the many victims. His Marler Clark law firm represents more than 100 families with Salmonella-related claims against PCA, including the survivors of three of the fatalities.
Marler says food companies downstream from PCA, those using its peanut butter and paste, as ingredients in their food products will have to step up and accept their liability.
The settlement agreement between Hartford and the Bankruptcy Court’s trustee was published Monday in the legal notices of USA Today. PCA’s bankruptcy in the Western District of Virginia is for PCA, Plainview Peanut Co., LLC, and Tidewater Blanching Co., LLC.