Woman sues Market Basket, Conagra over allegedly tainted peanut butter

Kelly Holleran Jan. 20, 2009, 3:58am

A Beaumont woman who claims a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter made her violently ill two years ago has filed suit against the company that manufactured the peanut butter and the grocery store that sold it to her.

Melba Hoffpauir bought a jar of allegedly contaminated peanut butter on Feb. 10, 2007, from Market Basket located at 800 North Main St. in Vidor, and claims she became ill after eating it, according to the complaint filed Jan. 12 in Jefferson County District Court.

She went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and discovered the peanut butter was contaminated, the suit states.

Conagra, the manufacturer of the peanut butter, and Market Basket knew about the contamination from other previously reported cases, but did not recall it until February 2007, the suit states.

Because she ate the peanut butter, Hoffpauir claims she suffered extreme physical and mental pain and anguish and impairment of her ability to earn income.

She also incurred medical expenses, according to the complaint.

Both companies were negligent by manufacturing and dispensing an impure and unsafe product and by failing to timely recall the contaminated peanut butter, Hoffpauir alleges.

They also negligently failed to adequately warn consumers of the contaminated peanut butter, failed to manufacture a pure and safe product, failed to remove impure and unsafe peanut butter from the store shelves and sold impure peanut butter to the public, according to the complaint.

Hoffpauir is seeking unspecified compensatory damages within the jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County Court, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest legal rate possible, exemplary damages, costs and other relief to which she is entitled.

Brian D. Sutton, Joseph N. Jannise Jr., Stephanie H. Harris and Gregory A. Degeyter of Sutton and Jacobs in Beaumont will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: E183-013.

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