Judge Extends Deadline for PCA Salmonella Claims

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<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Peanut_Corp_of_America_Salmonella_Outbreak">Peanut Corporation of America download La morte ha fatto l’uovo Killer Bean Forever download (PCA), the company linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people and sparked thousands of food recalls earlier this year, is at the center of a massive number of personal injury claims. Now, the deadline to file such claims that was in effect for today, has been extended by over four months to October 31, 2009, reports Chron.com.

About $207 million has been filed in claims against PCA in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lynchburg, Virginia, said Chron.com. Today was the original deadline for filing claims against PCA; however, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William E. Anderson granted a U.S. trustee’s motion to extend the claims deadline said Chron.com. Today is the deadline for damage claims from commercial outlets, noted Chron.com.

PCA case trustee, Roy V. Creasy of Roanoke, said the extension on personal injury claims was implemented to ensure everyone has time to file, “We don’t want anyone to be left out,” he said, quoted Chron.com. As of Friday, 252 damage claims were filed concerning salmonella poisoning linked to PCA plants in Georgia and Texas, said Chron.com.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), peanut paste, peanut butter, and other PCA products sickened over 700 people nationwide. Because PCA supplied peanut ingredients to hundreds of other food companies, the number of recalls related to the Salmonella outbreak came close to 4,000.

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During the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) investigation of the illnesses, it quickly became clear that oversight of the PCA Georgia plant at the center of the outbreak had been lax, at best. According to the Atlanta Constitution Journal, the Blakely, Georgia facility was inspected by the state health department on 184 occasions since 2006; however, 114 of those inspections lasted less than two hours. Not surprisingly, none of these inspections found evidence of the mold, cockroaches, and salmonella contamination uncovered by the FDA when it investigated the plant in January.

A second PCA plant in Texas, which was closed due to deplorable conditions last February, was never been properly licensed, although a state inspector who visited the plant three times since 2005 indicated in his reports that the facility was licensed correctly.

PCA is now the focus of a criminal probe being conducted by the US Justice Department. In February, the FBI executed search warrants at the PCA Georgia plant and at its headquarters in Virginia. Evidence has also emerged that PCA knowingly shipped products that had tested positive for Salmonella. In February, PCA owner Stewart Parnell was subpoenaed to testify at a Congressional hearing into the outbreak, and although he appeared, he invoked his constitutional right not to incriminate himself.

According to The News & Advance, the claims against PCA include eight wrongful death claims; each seek damages in the amount of $10 million. Another 86 claims, filed by people sickened by PCA ingredients, seek $1 million each. About 65 other claims filed as of Thursday were from food companies that used PCA’s ingredients, The News & Advance said.

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