Caramel Apples Listeria: Class Action Lawsuit

On December 19, 2014, the CDC warned consumers of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes (listeriosis) linked to prepackaged caramel apples. At that time the CDC reported the outbreak involved 29 people in 10 states. Most of the people sickened were adults, but some of were newborn babies and three were children who developed Listeria meningitis. At the time, 5 of the people sickened had died.

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The CDC just issued its final report on the outbreak. 35 people from 12 states were sickened: Arizona (5), California (3), Colorado (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), Nevada (1), New Mexico (6), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Illness onset dates ranged from October 17, 2014, to January 6, 2015.

What about a Class Action Lawsuit?

We are not aware of any attorney who has filed a class action, and would be surprised if it happened. We are trying these cases individually. The reason we are not filing a class action, and are filing individual lawsuits, is because the illnesses suffered by the 35 people are not similar enough:

  • 11 illnesses were associated with a pregnancy, so some of the cases were pregnant women who had milder forms of illness and some of them were babies who were born prematurely and were very sick;.
  • One woman lost her unborn baby;
  • 3 cases of Listeria meningitis occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.
  • 7 people died, at least 3 directly from listeriosis, giving rise to wrongful death claims.
  • Adults who were sickened did not all suffer the same symptoms or complications.

With a class action, the people that are part of the class need to have suffered very similar harm. This is not the case with this outbreak.

Is Bidart Bros. Responsible for the Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak?

There is substantial evidence that the source of the outbreak was apples processed by Bidart Bros. of Bakersfield, California. Traceback investigations found that Bidart was a common supplier for the brands of prepackaged caramel apples eaten by outbreak victims: Happy Apples, Carnival and Merb’s Candies.

When the FDA found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at the Bidart Brothers apple-packing facility, the company issued a recall of Granny Smith and Gala apples shipped from its Shafter, California, packing facility in 2014. This was on January 6, 2015. On January 8, FDA laboratory analyses determined that environmental Listeria isolates from the Bidart Bros. plant were indistinguishable from the 2 strains that sickened people in the outbreak. On January 18, 2015, whole gene sequencing (WGS) found that Listeria isolates from whole apples produced by Bidart Bros., collected along the distribution chain, were highly related to the outbreak strains. Taken together, there is little doubt that Bidart Bros. apples are the source of the outbreak.

Granny Smith Apple Recall

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Category: Food Poisoning
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