A Salmonella lawsuit was filed Friday in United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri against ConAgra, the Omaha, Nebraska-based food company whose Georgia peanut butter plant has been traced as the source of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Buchannan County, Missouri, residents Brian and Susanna Cox and their two children. The Cox family is represented by Seattle-based Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, and Springfield, Missouri-based Aleshire, Robb & Sivils.

In the lawsuit, attorneys allege that the Cox family first became ill with symptoms of Salmonella infections in October, 2006 and that both children required medical treatment. Unaware of the association between the consumption of peanut butter and their illnesses, the Cox family continued to purchase and consume Great Value brand peanut butter in the subsequent months. The Cox family first learned of a Salmonella outbreak traced to Great Value brand peanut butter on February 14, 2007, when the Food and Drug Administration announced Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter manufactured in ConAgra’s Georgia peanut butter plant had been traced as the source of a Salmonella outbreak among nearly 300 residents of 39 states.

“I’ve handled claims on behalf of victims of nationwide Salmonella outbreaks traced to tomatoes, cereal, and unpasteurized orange juice, but never peanut butter,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark.

Marler listed his top five recommendations for individuals who may be part of the Salmonella outbreak:

1.If you or a family member are still sick, please seek medical treatment.

2.If you do seek medical treatment, please ask that a stool culture be done to try and confirm that you have been sickened by Salmonella.

3.You should contact you local health department about your concerns and to relate information about your family members’ illnesses. Please make note of your peanut butter label, the brand, and the product code found on the lid—“2111” is the implicated product. Also note when and where you purchased it. This information will help the health department’s investigation.

4.If you have any left-over peanut butter, please put the entire jar in a plastic bag and place it in a cool spot. Please let your local health department know that you have it. They may offer to test it.

5.If any family member is currently sick, please be sure to attend to careful hygiene. Frequent hand washing can help reduce the risk of spreading infection among family members.