Earlier last month, a federal jury found that a peanut plant owner, as well as two top executives, were guilty of conspiracy and fraud in relation to a salmonella outbreak that was caused by contaminated peanut butter. However, according to a report by one news source, the jury did not get to hear that the salmonella outbreak not only caused many to become ill, but also caused nine deaths.
According to the news report, the jury was not able to hear about the deaths because they were not relevant to the charges that were filed against the peanut plant owner and executives. While the federal prosecutors could have charged involuntary manslaughter, which would have allowed the evidence of the deaths to be presented at trial, they chose not to because they felt that there was a stronger case with just the conspiracy and fraud charges.
However, those who lost family members will be permitted to testify at the sentencing hearing for the defendants.
The outbreak affected more than 700 people in 43 states, one of the largest outbreaks due to tainted food in the history of the United States. The complaint alleged that the executives knew that the peanut butter was tainted, but chose to distribute it nonetheless to make money.
In this case, the peanut butter factory owner and executives were facing federal criminal charges for the fraud they engaged in when covering up the tainted peanut butter. While sentencing is yet to come, the men are facing a maximum of 30 years in prison for their role in the outbreak.
In addition to criminal charges, the men involved in this case may also eventually face civil lawsuits, brought by the victims of the tainted peanut butter. In Maryland, victims of tainted-food illnesses can bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer seeking damages for their injuries or loss.
Manufacturers of any kind of food product are expected to only sell untainted, safe products. When a food manufacturer knowingly puts tainted food into a chain of distribution, it may be held liable for its actions in a Maryland court of law.
While it is not necessarily imperative that a plaintiff show that a defendant knew for certain that the food was tainted, that certainly helps the plaintiff’s case because it shows the guilty mind of the defendant.
Have You Suffered Due to Tainted Food?
If you or a loved one developed some kind of serious illness from consuming tainted food, you may be entitled to monetary damages. These kinds of cases, however, are tricky to bring and require a lot of investigation on the part of the plaintiff in order to set up a successful case. Therefore, it is highly advised that you consult with a dedicated DC injury attorney before bringing your case. The DC personal injury firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC has years of experience litigating product liability cases and would be happy to speak to you about your potential case. Call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free consultation.
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