As the case count continues to rise in a Salmonella outbreak linked to the chicken salad from Fareway grocery stores, three victims have filed civil suits in federal court seeking reimbursement for medical expenses and other costs.
Illinois resident Jeff Anderson and South Dakota husband and wife Derek and Sarah Porter filed the lawsuits Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.
Also on Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health posted updated outbreak numbers, reporting a total of 115 cases of Salmonella infection. Of those, 37 have been confirmed with laboratory tests and 78 are probable cases. Some of the probable cases are pending lab confirmation and others have an epidemiological link to someone who has been lab confirmed.
Iowa officials define outbreak cases as people who became sick Jan. 1 or after.
The implicated chicken salad was produced between Dec. 15, 2017, and Feb. 13, 2018, according to a public health alert issued last week by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Triple T Speciality Meats in Ackley, Iowa, produced the chicken salad exclusively for Fareway, according to a report by the Des Moines Register newspaper.
“A representative of the Ackley company said Tuesday that the plant was not currently in production, but he declined to comment further,” the Register reported.
Fareway Stores Inc. sold the chicken salad at its stores in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Outbreak illnesses have been reported in all five states, including two cases in South Dakota and one each in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Illinois.
Civil cases cite strict liability
Both federal court cases filed Tuesday seek jury trials and unspecified damages. The complaints contend Fareway Stores Inc. had a responsibility to customers to not sell contaminated food.
The Anderson lawsuit states the family bought chicken salad Feb. 1 from a Fareway store in Moline, Ill. Jeff Anderson ate the product on Feb. 1 and 2 and got sick on Feb. 4, with increasingly severe symptoms of diarrhea, body aches, and chills.
“His symptoms became so severe that Jeff required emergency medical attention on Feb. 6,” according to the legal complaint.
“In the emergency room, Jeff underwent several tests and he was given an IV for dehydration. He was also prescribed pain medication due to his abdominal pain. Jeff had stool tests performed which came back positive for Salmonella on Feb. 8.”
Similar details are outlined in the lawsuit filed by Derek and Sarah Porter.
The Porters bought chicken salad on Feb. 8 from a Fareway store in Harrisburg, S.D. They became ill on Feb. 11 and 12 with diarrhea and abdominal cramping, according to the complaint.
“Both continued to suffer bouts of a headache, stomach cramps, and diarrhea until Dereck took Sarah to the emergency room at about 1:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day,” according to the Porters’ lawsuit.
“In the emergency room several tests were run on Sarah and she was given an IV for dehydration. Because her liver enzymes were elevated, Sarah was admitted to the hospital.”
Both Derek and Sarah tested positive for Salmonella. They were contacted by the South Dakota Department of Health and were informed that they were the first two cases linked to the Fareway chicken salad Salmonella outbreak in South Dakota, according to their lawsuit.
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