First Lawsuit filed after Listeria-contaminated cheese leads to death of Vermont man
March 11 2017
Vulto Creamery faces lawsuit from the outbreak that originated from their New York facility.
Vermont resident Veronica Friedman, widow of Richard Friedman, has filed suit against Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, after raw milk cheese tainted with Listeria hospitalized her husband and led to his death. Ms. Friedman is alleging wrongful death as well as emotional and financial damage. She is represented by food safety advocate William D. Marler, managing attorney at Marler Clark LLP, the Food Safety Law Firm, based in Seattle, along with Underberg & Kessler, LLP. The case number is CASE NUMBER.
The Friedmans purchased raw milk cheese that was manufactured by Vulto Creamery, cheese contaminated with Listeria, sometime in early October. Mr. Friedman’s symptoms began to take hold around October 11, 2016, when he went to the Emergency Room at Brattleboro Hospital. He was transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical center on October 12, where he stayed for a week and a half before being transferred to Mt. Ascutney Rehab in Windsor, Vermont. On October 31, at the rehab facility, Richard Friedman suffered a massive stroke, and was airlifted back to Dartmouth-Hitchcock where he died on November 2, 2016. The stroke was caused by the Listeriosis infection.
“People think of food poisoning as inconvenient rather than really dangerous,” said Bill Marler, attorney for the plaintiff and top food safety attorney. “But the reality is that what you eat can seriously damage or even kill you. Food providers have a responsibility to protect the lives of their customers, especially when producing raw milk products, which pose a higher risk to consumers.”
The CDC reports that six people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from Connecticut, Florida, New York and Vermont. Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 1, 2016, to January 22, 2017. All six people were hospitalized and two people died. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89, with a median age of 55.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, has identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, as the likely source of an outbreak of listeriosis in six people from four states. Two of the six people have died.
The agencies have been investigating this outbreak since January 31, 2017. After gathering evidence about various cheeses eaten by the people who became ill, CDC identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery as the likely cause of the outbreak.
After being informed of a positive test conducted on a retail sample of Ouleout cheese by the FDA, Vulto Creamery began contacting its customers to return Ouleout cheese on March 3, 2017, and on March 7 announced a recall of its Ouleout cheese along with its Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc cheeses.
On March 8, 2017, FDA received positive test results from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirming samples of Ouleout cheese that matched the genetic fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes in the outbreak.
Listeria causes an estimated 2,600 cases per year of the severe invasive illness called listeriosis. Unlike other pathogens, Listeria can multiply at refrigerator temperatures, which makes produce an ideal host for its spread and transference. Other foods commonly associated with Listeria outbreaks are improperly pasteurized dairy products, deli meats, and ready-to-eat, prepackaged foods. Pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are much more likely to become seriously ill when exposed to Listeria. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; 22% of Listeria infections while pregnant result in stillbirth or neonatal death. Persons with AIDS are 300 times more likely to be diagnosed with listeriosis.
Symptoms of Listeria infection are sudden development of chills, severe headache, vomiting, and other flu-like symptoms. Most healthy adults and children who contract Listeria infection only experience mild to moderate symptoms. Severe complications include blood infection, meningitis, and death. To learn more about Listeria, please visit http://www.about-listeria.com.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of food-borne illness outbreaks. The lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation, and has litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to cheese, cantaloupe, pasteurized milk, and other food products.