Salmonella linked to Plainview peanut plant - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/15/09

Salmonella linked to Plainview peanut plant

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - There is yet another chapter in the ongoing salmonella tainted peanut case, and this time it's bad news for Plainview.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment traced 6 cases of salmonella poisoning to the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Plainview. The Colorado victims range in age from 2 to 60.

University Medical Center tells NewsChannel 11 some people get over a salmonella infection without a trip to the hospital while others die from it. If you do end up in the hospital the average cost is $2,000 a day, but it might be difficult and costly to get the food company to cover those medical bills.

With hundreds sick and nine dead from salmonella poisoning, Congress spent the week trying to determine who's to blame. "Would you be willing to take the lid off and eat any of these products now, like the people on the panel ahead of you, their relatives and loved ones did?" asked Rep. Greg Walden of the peanut company's CEO.

Until recently all the cases traced back to a peanut plant in Georgia, but over the weekend, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment connected 6 cases to the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Plainview.

Costly medical bills have some victims wanting compensation, but Lubbock Attorney Nick Olguin says that might be difficult.  "If the plaintiff can prove that the company injected the suspect food into the stream of commerce, then it basically puts liability on the manufacturer of the food," said Olguin. 

Proving liability can cost $15,000 to $60,000. "You have to hire the mechanical experts, the engineers. You have to hire the medical experts," said Olguin. 

This case is very high profile, so Olguin says it may be easier to prove fault, but there's another big hurdle. The Peanut Corporation of America filed bankruptcy Friday. "Whenever that happens, with the peanut company filing bankruptcy, it becomes more difficult to get a result for your client. It could drag on, well, forever," said Olguin. Even if the plaintiff wins their case, getting paid is another story.

Olgiun says if you do want to file a food poisoning case you should do it as soon as possible because if you wait too long it's difficult to prove and evidence can get destroyed.

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Salmonella is one of the most common intestinal infections in the U.S.  Learn more about contraction, prevention and treatment of this disease.
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