Suit alleges illnesses caused by contaminated peanut butter

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Dec. 4, 2008, 12:20am

TEXARKANA, Texas – An East Texas woman claims the peanut butter she purchased at a local Wal-Mart in 2006 was contaminated with salmonella and caused her to develop respiratory problems and pancreatitis.

In October 2006, Bowie County resident Shela McMurry was rushed to the hospital complaining of respiratory distress shortly after eating peanut butter she purchased at Wal-Mart. She was later diagnosed with inflamation of the pancreas.

McMurry filed the product liability lawsuit against ConAgra Foods, Inc. on Oct 29 in the District Court of Bowie County, Texas. The case was transferred to federal court, Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas on Dec 2.

The plaintiff asserts strict product liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. She states the peanut butter was unreasonably dangerous and that the defendant manufactured the product in unsanitary conditions.

ConAgra Foods voluntarily recalled the brands Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter in February 2007.

The defendant denies the plaintiff's allegations, stating her injuries were not caused by the ingestion of the peanut butter but from other conditions. Further, ConAgra states the products conformed to the highest industry standards for state-of-the-art design and manufacture of similar products.

"Defendant's product was not unreasonably dangerous, given the state of knowledge regarding such products," the defendant's answer stated.

The FDA lists the symptoms of the salmonella virus as fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Texarkana attorney Paul Hoover is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No. 5:2008cv00204

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