Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of the outbreak, which was traced to salmonella-tainted Roma tomatoes. Ordinarily, that would also represent the statute of limitations for some suits, but attorneys for Sheetz, its customers and various insurance companies have agreed to push that back to July 21.
Federal investigators traced the tomatoes to a Florida packing house, but said nothing was done wrong there to taint them. The federal investigation also absolved Altoona-based Sheetz Inc. and the tomato wholesaler, Coronet Foods Inc., of Wheeling, W.Va. But under Pennsylvania’s strict liability laws, both can still be sued because they sold the tomatoes.
In Pennsylvania, most civil lawsuits must be filed within two years. Because July 1 falls on a Saturday this year, Friday would have been the last day many of those sickened could have sued. Seattle attorney William Marler represents 50 more clients whose claims he hopes to resolve during the three-week deadline extension.
Marler and Michael Cortez, Sheetz’s vice president and general counsel, said the company has $11 million worth of insurance, which Marler said is more than enough to cover the legal claims.