Fred Mann of The Wichita Eagle reports that the family of David Weimer, a 59-year old Wichita man who died of the disease in September 2011 are suing the company that sold the cantaloupe for the farm, the principal company in charge of auditing the farm for safety, and the store that sold the tainted cantaloupe to the victims.
Bill Marler, a food-safety lawyer in Seattle who represents the Weimer family, said his lawsuit was filed because multiple efforts at mediation with all parties to resolve the matter have failed. The bankruptcy last year of the farm that grew the cantaloupe – Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo. – also delayed the process, he said. In addition, a two-year statute of limitations on the cases is close to expiring.
“These are cases that should have been resolved,” said Marler, whose firm, Marler Clark, has filed or amended lawsuits in July and August on behalf of 44 families in 12 states who were affected by the outbreak. “There’s no question about the cause of their illness and no question about the cause of their deaths.”
Weimer, a special agent for the U.S. government, purchased tainted cantaloupe at Dillons stores in Wichita on several occasions in August 2011, according to Marler’s lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the family on Aug. 13. He became ill with symptoms of listeria infection on Sept. 13, 2011. The next day he was hospitalized. He died on Sept. 19.
Weimer’s family declined to comment about the lawsuit. According a video of family testimonials that Marler provided to The Eagle, Weimer had recovered his health after two rounds of chemotherapy to treat leukemia. He was notified by the KU Medical Center just before his death that a donor had been found for a stem-cell transplant.
“Had he not eaten the cantaloupe, he would’ve been around today,” Marler said.