New Yorker Files Lawsuit Over Tainted Pine Nuts

A New Yorker just filed a lawsuit over tainted pine nuts linked to a recent multi-state food borne illness outbreak that sickened dozens. The family filed the lawsuit against the distributor, Sunrise Commodities, which also does business as Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

We previously wrote that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer warning against eating Turkish pine nuts distributed by Sunrise Commodities after agency tests confirmed the presence of Salmonella. The FDA had been collaborating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State public health and agriculture officials on the multi-state outbreak.

Sunrise Commodities issued a recall notification to its customers dated November 3, 2011, alerting them of the test results and the epidemiologic investigation and asking them to notify their subsequent customers of the recall. The FDA then announced a Sunrise Commodity recall for 21,000 pounds of Turkish pine nuts. Wegmans Food Markets issued a recall on October 26, 2011 for 5,000 pounds of the product sold in the bulk foods departments in most of its New York stores. On November 4, the FDA announced that Badia Spices of Miami, Florida, recalled 3,800 pounds of Sunrise Commodities’ bulk Turkish pine nuts.

Now, said Democrat and Chronicle, the Rochester-area family’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from American Pistachio Commodities Corp., which is being blamed for distributing the tainted, imported pine nuts contaminated with the Salmonella pathogen that sickened at least 42 people in six states. All of the nuts were sold Wegmans’ bulk food sections, said Democrat and Chronicle. Wegmans was not named as a co-defendant.

The latest lawsuit, filed late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Rochester alleges that Laurie Neff and her daughter (identified in court papers as “T.N.,”) suffered severe gastrointestinal illness from Salmonella poisoning, wrote Democrat and Chronicle. According to the complaint, Laurie Neff purchased the pine nuts at a Wegmans, ate them in October, and fell ill; Laurie’s daughter became ill in early November, needing hospital care. The daughter’s illness was either from direct consumption or from contact with her mother, the complaint noted, wrote Democrat and Chronicle.

We recently wrote that Kimberly Waterbury filed a in federal court on behalf of herself and her minor child, according to a prior Democrat and Chronicle report. The lawsuit claims that Sunrise Commodities was strictly liable for the contaminated Turkish pine nuts and was negligent for not using reasonable care in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the tainted nut product, as well as for violating federal, state, and/or local food safety regulations. Unspecified damages are being sought.

Just prior, we wrote that another lawsuit was filed involving a student from St. John Fisher College and filed against American Pistachio Corporation. Sean McGuirk, 20, said that, this August, he consumed a pasta dish made with pine nuts; he fell ill and was diagnosed with a Salmonella Enteritidis illness so severe he was hospitalized for three days. McGuirk was advised by health officials that his illness was a genetic match to the outbreak’s strain.

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