A&W Produce sued for deaths caused by tainted cucumbers

Cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed to various U.S. retail outlets and restaurants have caused injuries to many people and even deaths in some cases. On being tested, the imported cucumbers were found positive for ‘Salmonella’ that has resulted in a large Salmonella outbreak termed as ‘Poona’.


The tainted cucumbers have been recalled after the test confirmed it unfit for consumption, thus suing Andrew & Williamson (A&W) Fresh Produce thrice until now – twice locally in San Diego and once in Texas.


Reportedly, a 99-year old San Diego woman, Mildred Hendricks died due to acute Salmonella poisoning. Consequently, her niece, Pamela Hendricks filed a lawsuit against A&W. Hendricks’ claims rest against strict products liability, negligence, negligence per se [under FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Part 110, subparts (A)-(G); The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, § 402(a) and California’s Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, CA Health & Safety Code § 110545] as well as for breach of implied warranties. The lawsuit filed does not specify the damages claimed for her death but Mildred’s attorneys seek a jury trial, where the Court would look into “past and future economic and non-economic damages” among other things while deciding the suit. See Mildred Hendrick v. Andrew and Williamson Sales Co. Inc, Produce, Case No. 15CV2038 JAH NLS (S.D. Cal. Sept 14, 2015).[1]


Another personal injury suit has been filed by Lori and Ralph Allegranza, a married couple from Bakersfield, wherein Lori after having consumed the tainted cucumber, began suffering from acute diarrhea and stomach cramps and had to be hospitalized when she got extremely dehydrated. She was however, discharged with Ciprofloxacin, after being given IV fluids. Her condition soon worsened and her blood culture was found positive for large Salmonella Poona outbreak. She, along with her husband who had not eaten the tainted cucumbers have sued for medical and medical-related expenses, emotional distress, fear of harm and humiliation, physical and emotional pain, physical injury and all other ordinary, incidental and consequential damages under the claims such as strict product liability, negligence, negligence per se [under Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and California Health & Safety Code Section 110545] and breach of warranties. See Lori Allegranza and Ralph Leo Allegranza v. Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, Inc., (Cal. Sept 14, 2015).[2]


The third lawsuit was filed in the District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas by a couple Jack and Lois Stowe who ate A&W cucumbers and fell ill. Just like the above mentioned cases, this one too saw similar claims. See Jack and Lois Stowe v. Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, Inc. (Tex. Sept 2015).[3]


Amidst this situation, Fred Williamson, A&W’s President has said that the consumers’ safety and welfare is of utmost importance to them and that they are trying to know the reason behind the large Salmonella Poona outbreak. Moreover, according to A&W partner Dave Murray, they spend a lot of money in maintaining food standards at A&W and want to get to the bottom of the outbreak.


Resultantly, A&W Produce has ordered a total recall of all the imported cucumbers in the market and warned people of the possible symptoms in case of infection. They have been co-operative in their attitude and have compassionately accepted the lawsuits filed against them and are ready to compensate victims for the losses caused due to their fault, if discovered.

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