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Simon & Luke Files First Hepatitis A Lawsuit Against Townsend Farms and Costco Corporation

(PRWEB) June 04, 2013

Yesterday the Houston-based food safety law firm of Simon & Luke, with co-counsel Gomez & Iagmin, filed the first lawsuit stemming from a multi-state Hepatitis A outbreak linked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on June 3, 2013, to consumption of a frozen berry mix manufactured by Oregon-based Townsend Farms and sold at Costco stores. A file stamped copy of the lawsuit, Case Number BC510633, was filed June 3, 2013, and is attached.

The lawsuit was filed against Townsend Farms and Costco Corporation in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California on behalf of 51-year old Lakewood, California resident Lynda Brackenridge. According to the Complaint, Ms. Brackenridge consumed Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend berries she had purchased at a nearby Costco store. In the Complaint, Ms. Brackenridge alleges that on May 22, she began to experience fatigue, chills, muscle and joint aches, and loss of appetite. Over the next few days, she began to experience additional symptoms, including vomiting and dry heaves, darkened urine, and yellowing of the eyes and skin. She was taken to her local doctor’s office where she submitted blood and urine samples and was given IV fluids for dehydration. On May 30, her doctors informed her that her liver enzymes were severely elevated, and she was immediately scheduled for an ultrasound later that day. According to the Complaint, on May 31, after her test results showed severe liver inflammation, she was admitted to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for continued IV therapy, anti-nausea medication, and monitoring. On June 1, her hepatologist informed her that she had contracted Hepatitis A, and that she would need to be isolated from other patients.

The Complaint states that Ms. Brackenridge remains hospitalized in isolation at Long Beach Memorial Hospital in guarded condition.

According to the Complaint, prior to her Hepatitis A illness, Ms. Brackenridge led an otherwise healthy, active lifestyle, which included hiking, kayaking, climbing, and other rigorous outdoor activities. She has already lost over 10 pounds due to her illness.

Ms. Brackenridge is one of at least 34 victims in the western United States who have contracted Hepatitis A linked to frozen Townsend Farm berries, this according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has identified the victims as located in California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. In addition, health officials in the State of Hawaii have announced at least three suspected cases. According to the CDC release, the outbreak has led the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to advise all potential consumers against consuming this product. The same report states that Townsend Farms has not issued a formal recall at this time, but according to a company spokesperson, Costco Wholesale has removed the product from the shelves and is contacting members who may have purchased the product.

According to the CDC, the outbreak strain of Hepatitis A is rarely seen in the United States, and is more common in North Africa and the Middle East. The CDC release states that this strain was identified in recent outbreaks in Europe and British Columbia. In both outbreaks, the illnesses were linked to consumption of frozen berries.

Ron Simon, counsel for Ms. Brackenridge, issued the following statement today: “We will determine exactly how these berries became contaminated so that we can prevent this from happening again. Americans deserve to eat with the confidence that their food won’t harm them. This lawsuit is just one more step towards assuring that all foods in the United States be safe and free from contamination.”

Simon & Luke currently represents numerous victims involved in this outbreak.

For media inquiries or more information on this outbreak and ongoing litigation, please contact Ron Simon directly at (713) 819-8116 or ron(at)simonluke(dot)com.

Ron Simon
Simon & Luke, L.L.P.                            
2929 Allen Parkway, 42nd Floor
Houston, Texas 77019
(713) 335-4900
(713) 335-4949 (fax)

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