A fourth lawsuit has been filed against Colorado-based Jensen Farms, whose Rocky Ford cantaloupe has been identified as the source of a multistate Listeria outbreak.
The lawsuit was filed in Canadian County District Court on behalf of the family of an Oklahoma man who died. The suit also names Frontera Produce, a Texas-based company that sold and distributed the Listeria-contaminated Rocky Ford cantaloupe in Oklahoma.
According to the complaint, William T. Beach ate Jensen Farms cantaloupe in early August, subsequently fell ill and was taken to the hospital by ambulance on Aug. 28 after he collapsed.
Mr. Beach was discharged from the hospital two days later, but his condition worsened and he was again rushed to the hospital, where he died after a failed intubation procedure.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health later contacted one of Mr. Beach’s six daughters to inform them that Mr. Beach had tested positive for Listeria and died from his infection.
“The story of William Beach’s death is simply heartbreaking,” said Beach Family attorney William Marler, of the food safety firm Marler Clark. “While the companies at fault can’t bring Mr. Beach back, we think that the least Jensen Farms and Frontera can do in this instance step up and compensate his family for their loss.”
William Beach’s death is one of at least 13 deaths in a Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe that has so far sickened 72 people in 18 states.
On Sept, 14, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had found evidence of Listeria contamination at Jensen Farms, a company that produces approximately 40 percent of all Rocky Ford cantaloupe distributed throughout the United States.
“Food companies have a responsibility to produce wholesome, unadulterated food. Jensen Farms and Frontera should know the risks associated with producing and distributing fresh produce like cantaloupe,” added Marler, who is the publisher of Food Safety News. “The bottom line is that this outbreak should have been avoided and people like Mr. Beach should still be enjoying life with their families.”