Harold Lee Hanks was so ill, weak, and disoriented by Jan. 23 after eating salami he purchased at his local Wal-Mart six days earlier that his wife demanded that he go to the emergency room.  Once there, Hanks learned he’d contracted a severe bacterial infection.

His local and state health officials later told the Lake Ozark, Missouri man that he had tested positive for Salmonella Montevideo, the very strain involved in the national outbreak associated Daniele Inc. and its pepper supplier, Wholesome Spice and Seasonings Inc.

Hanks has suffered from cramps and nausea, chills and fevers, and what his lawyers call “explosive bouts of diarrhea” that left him ill and weak for days.  Yesterday, however, Hanks struck back by filing a lawsuit against Rhode Island-based Daniele, and Brooklyn-based Wholesome Spice.

He is the second of the Salmonella Montevideo victims to sue.  Daniele recalled more than 1.25 million pounds of its Italian sausage salami after the Salmonella contamination was discovered.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta says the outbreak has sickened at least 207 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia.  Since many people who become ill do not seek medical treatment or do not provide “stool samples” if they do go to the doctor, the actual number of people sickened in this outbreak is probably much higher.

“The CDC is the first to say that only about three percent of Salmonella illnesses are ever culture-confirmed, so the real number of victims in this outbreak is in the thousands,” said nationally known food safety lawyer William Marler, who is part of the team of trial attorneys representing Hanks.  “Most people with Salmonella never know they have it, and try to ‘tough it out’ as a stomach flu, but Salmonella can get ugly, and it is important to visit a health care professional if you have consumed the recalled product or are experiencing symptoms of Salmonella infection.”

Marler is teamed up with attorney Roger Nail, who practices law in both Kansas and Missouri at the firm of Goza and Honnold.  They’ve filed the Hanks lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Camden County, Missouri.

The Hanks lawsuit lists four counts of action against the two food companies and demands a jury trial.  One count alleges violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which is intended to protect consumers from injury.