A Michigan family has sued Wal-Mart for selling contaminated cantaloupe that’s involved in the multistate Salmonella outbreak.

The complaint was filed in Michigan’s Calhoun County Circuit Court on behalf of Battle Creek resident Angela Compton and her two children, who both were infected with Salmonella Typhimurium after eating cantaloupe they purchased form Wal-Mart in mid-July.

Compton purchased three cantaloupes at the Wal-Mart store located at 6020 B. Drive North in Battle Creek on July 12, 2012, later cutting the melons into slices and serving them to her family. Within days of eating the cantaloupe slices, one of her children, “MC,” became ill with symptoms of Salmonella infection, including diarrhea and painful abdominal cramping.

She was treated several times by her pediatrician and was later seen at the emergency room for dehydration and was admitted to Bronson Kalamazoo hospital. “MC “was hospitalized for four days and continued to suffer symptoms of Salmonella infection for at least a week after she was discharged.

Her sister, “CC”, fell ill with a Salmonella infection several days into MC’s illness. She was also treated at her pediatrician’s office, but required further treatment at the ER on three occasions. Both children tested positive for Salmonella Typhimurium.

Michigan health officials told Angela Compton that her daughters’ illnesses were part of the multi-state cantaloupe outbreak linked to melons grown in southwest Indiana.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the Compton family by Marler Clark, the nationally known food safety law firm based in Seattle, and by prominent Michigan attorney Michael Heilmann.

“I’m in the middle of litigation from last year’s Listeria outbreak traced to cantaloupes grown in Colorado.” said attorney Bill Marler, “I would have expected farmers, distributors and retailers to have better food safety procedures in place this year to prevent another cantaloupe-related outbreak from happening.”

Marler represents 42 families from last year’s deadly Listeria outbreak traced to cantaloupes from Colorado’s Jensen Farms. His firm has been litigating foodborne illness cases since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak.

It has represented victims of nearly every major foodborne illness outbreak in the last 20 years, and has brought cases against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Dole, Nestle, and Taco Bell.

The Michigan lawsuit may be the first brought in the Salmonella outbreak that has now reached 21 states with 145 sickened and two dead.

  • In the summer of 2010, I found presumptive evidence of Listeria in the celery from two out of six different samples of celery each from a different retail establishment all located in and around Brighton, MI. I am certainly not a regulator, so I found it ethically imperative to report my findings both to the authorities as well as the managers of the stores involved.
    The local authorities told me how poor they were and therefore helpless to act on my information. Certainly, no one ever got back to me to explain the final disposition, if any, of confirmatory samples taken. The store managers listened to what I had to say with varying degrees of interest. The store manager who was least engaged simply told me that her job was to move the product the trucks delivered every day. Food safety was “Corporate’s problem.”
    I am interested to know the theory under which a retailer could be responsible for injury to a retail customer who purchased a product produced by someone else. Last I heard, retailers are responsible for food safety in the U.K., not the U.S. Is it possible to get a link to or copy of the original complaint?