Our Illinois personal injury attorneys were interested to read an article published by MSNBC detailing the first wave of settlements that have been obtained against Wright County Egg, an egg production corporation whose consumers fell victim to extreme salmonella poisoning as a result of consuming Wright County Egg products.
Wright County Egg, as a company, is one of the top ten egg producers in the United States. The corporation used to be run under the name DeCoster Egg Farms, and this is not the company’s first brush with the law. In the 1990s, the business faced litigation based on having hired illegal immigrant workers, and in 2010, company executives pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges after it was found that the egg-laying hens were forced to endure inhumane conditions. Additionally, later in 2010, the company recalled 380 million eggs due to salmonella contamination; this latest infraction gave rise to dozens of personal injury lawsuits.
Salmonella contamination can arise from a number of sources, but commonly comes from such sources as infected food, poor kitchen hygiene, bodily fluids from sick individuals, and polluted water. Typical symptoms of Salmonella poisoning generally present in the form of diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within six to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. In more serious cases, victims may develop symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting that can last up to a week.
Salmonella itself is a form of bacteria generally found in the intestines of cold- and warm-blooded animals. Infections usually arise following consumption of foods contaminated with the bacteria. Although all persons are at risk for developing salmonella poisoning, infants, the elderly, and adults with compromised or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infection.
During an investigation into the contamination, investigators fond salmonella infection at the farm, as well as dead chickens, insects, rodents, towers of manure and other filthy conditions. According to MSNBC, a subsequent congressional investigation revealed that Wright County Egg’s testing found salmonella samples more than 400 times between 2008 and 2010.
Corporations that manufacture and distribute food products to the public have an obligation to ensure that those products are free from hazard or contamination. When infected food reaches consumers and causes injury, illness, or death, the companies may be held legally responsible for the damages cause. These types of situations give rise to Illinois food poisoning lawsuits.
Following the lawsuits in this case, many consumers will be receiving compensation for the injuries they suffered after having eaten Wright County’s contaminated eggs. Settlement agreements have been reached with approximately 40 victims of salmonella poisoning, and the payouts are coming from the company’s insurer, Selective Insurance.
Although details of individual settlements are confidential, details of three of the agreements became public when a Federal judge in Iowa totaling $366,000 for children who had to be hospitalized as a result of the foodborne illness. The settlements are intended to cover costs of medical bills, legal fees, and money for the children’s pain and suffering. Settlements involving children required approval by a federal judge because of the children’s minor status, which is why details of the agreements became available to the public.
Federal officials speculate that more than 1,900 people became ill after consuming eggs produced by Wright County Egg, as well as eggs sold by Hillandale Farms, who purchased chickens and feed from Wright County Egg. This first wave of personal injury settlements represents only a fraction of the victims, and therefore do not end the legal problems for Wright County Egg.
Our Illinois personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling cases involving foodborne illnesses. In fact, our attorneys won a $4 million settlement awarded to three attendees at a national convention who contracted salmonella poisoning, leading to crippling arthritic injuries.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury as a result of a foodborne illness, see a doctor immediately. Once a doctor has diagnosed your illness and provided appropriate treatment, you may consider the fact that if the food poisoning was one caused by either food from a restaurant or sold at a grocery store, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under the law.