ALBANY, NY (July 17, 2007) – Seattle-based Marler Clark filed a second lawsuit against Robert’s American Gourmet Food, Inc. today in Albany County Supreme Court in New York. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Voorheesville, New York residents Patrick and Elex Scheels and two of their 20-month-old triplets who became ill with Salmonella Wandsworth infections after consuming Veggie Booty in April. Co-counsel in the case is Rochester, New York-based Underberg & Kessler and New Brunswick, NJ-based Eric Weinberg.

In the lawsuit, attorney William Marler contends that Sydney and Cole Scheels became ill with Salmonellosis after eating Veggie Booty. Both children exhibited fever, abdominal cramping, explosive diarrhea, and bloody diarrhea after eating the Veggie Booty, and received medical treatment for their illnesses. While Cole recovered from his illness, Sydney suffered symptoms of Salmonella infection throughout May and June, and lost roughly ten percent of her body weight due to her illness. Sydney and Cole both submitted stool samples that cultured positive for Salmonella Wandsworth, and the Scheels were notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that their children were part of a nation-wide outbreak that had been traced to consumption of Veggie Booty. Sydney continues to test positive for Salmonella

“Robert’s has indicated that an ingredient from a Chinese supplier was the source of this outbreak,” Marler commented. “After recent scares involving food products imported from China, one would think that American food manufacturers using imported ingredients would take extra precautions and institute a testing regimen to ensure the safety of their products.”

Robert’s American Gourmet Foods initiated a recall of its Veggie Booty on June 28, after the company was notified that the product was the source of a Salmonella outbreak. The company expanded its recall to include Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks on July 2. On July 11, the CDC announced that 60 persons in 19 states had been confirmed ill with Salmonella Wandsworth infections, with initial illness onset dates between March 4 and June 15. Ninety percent of cases were children aged 10 months to three years. 

“This case is very perplexing,” Marler added. “There are several unanswered questions that beg answers.” Questions Marler seeks answers to include:

1.      If Robert’s American Gourmet only markets Veggie Booty, etc., and Atlantic Quality Spice & Seasoning provides the spices, who manufacturers the product, and where?

2.      The Minnesota Department of Health isolated Salmonella Typhimurium from unopened bags of Veggie Booty. Have other strains of Salmonella (in addition to Wandsworth) been found in either human stool or product samples – like Salmonella Typhimurium?

3.      Why has Robert’s American Gourmet not offered to help the victims?  Medical bills and wage losses are mounting.

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illness outbreaks since 1993. Together with Marler Clark, Underberg & Kessler has represented victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and hepatitis A outbreaks, including 72 victims of the Brook-Lea Country Club Salmonella outbreak in 2002.

  • Consumers are not responsible for illness when the source of the pathogen making them ill originated in a pre-packaged food, ready to eat shelf stable food. It is totally illogical to assume that throughout the nation, consumers some how introduced the same pathogen into these packaged goods. Theses defense are so ludicrous that it almost inconceivable that any judge or jury for that matter would take them seriously, I cannot imagine any food safety expert who could provide an expert opinion as to how this could have happened. The defense attorneys in this case must share the blame for these irresponsible theories. Unfortunately, the corporation responsible for distributing these contaminated products chose the low road of attacking the victims, a tactic that discredits them and more importantly only highlights the uncaring and irresponsible nature of this company. These responses will upset anyone familiar with the events in this case, and will backfire in court.