Marler Clark filed a lawsuit against importer Forever Cheese and Peterson Company, a Washington state cheese distributor, on September 24, 2012. The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle on behalf of a Seattle woman who was hospitalized for 2 weeks after becoming ill with a Listeria infection she contracted through eating Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese. The firm filed a second lawsuit on behalf of a California couple whose baby was born prematurely and died after suffering a Listeria infection he contracted from his mother, who had eaten the Listeria-contaminated ricotta salata cheese.

In the fall of 2012 the CDC collaborated with public health and regulatory officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis).  Joint investigation efforts indicated that ricotta salata cheese was the likely source.

Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Listeria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that were part of this outbreak.  They used data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.

A total of 22 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from 13 states and the District of Columbia.  The number of ill people identified in each location was as follows:  California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (2), and Washington (1).

Among persons for whom information is available, dates that illness was diagnosed ranged from March 28, 2012 to October 6, 2012.  Twenty ill persons were hospitalized.  Nine of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three of these were diagnosed in newborns.  The other 13 ill persons ranged in age from 30 years to 87 years, with a median age of 77 years, and 54% were female.  Four deaths were reported, one each from Minnesota, New York, Nebraska, and California.  In Nebraska and California, public health officials determined that the deaths were related to listeriosis.  In Minnesota and New York, public health officials did not report listeriosis as a cause of death because it was not listed as such on the death certificates.  One fetal loss also was reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies indicated that Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. was the likely source of this outbreak of listeriosis.  FDA isolated the outbreak strain of Listeria from a sample of uncut Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese, which was imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc.

Listeria:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.