A 2009 salmonella outbreak that resulted in the death of nine individuals and afflicted 700 more has finally been linked to a Georgia peanut company. A federal indictment has been issued that charges the head of the Peanut Corporation of America and four other individuals with multiple federal crimes, including fraud, conspiracy, introducing adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce and obstruction of justice. In addition, a series of lawsuits, including wrongful death claims, have been filed against the company.
According to the indictment, officials were aware of the dangerous conditions of the products that the plant was manufacturing but continued to sell them. Prosecutors are charging the president of the company, an operations manager, a quality assurance manager and the food broker for the company. Another operations manager has already pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including fraud, conspiracy and the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce. In addition to these criminal charges, individuals who lost family members have filed wrongful death claims against the company to impose civil liability on the company.
In the wake of the spree of lawsuits, the company filed for bankruptcy, and left a large sum to be divided among the 120-odd plaintiffs in the form of settlements. The surviving victims are expected to receive between $20,000 and $2 million each. The families who lost loved ones due to the actions of the peanut company are expected to receive settlements between $200,000 and $1 million.
When a person or business causes another person to be injured or killed due to negligent actions, the injured victim or his or her family may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer may be able to assist the victim with the process.
Source: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Four indicted in peanut deaths linked to Ga. plant,” Craig Schneider, Feb. 22, 2013