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Toxic Tort, Personal Injury Litigator Margie Searcy Alford Analyzes Salmonella Litigation

In this Emerging Issues Analysis, personal injury and toxic tort litigator Margie Searcy Alford looks at the most important Salmonella opinions handed down over the past several years and gives practice tips for handling these cases. Issues discussed include (1) whether removal to federal court was proper; (2) whether plaintiff established the elements of his or her claim; (3) whether expert scientific testimony was admissible; and (4) whether Salmonella poisoning was excluded from coverage under an insurance policy.

She writes:

"It seems that scarcely a month goes by without Salmonella making headline news. In the summer of 2010, approximately 1,470 cases of Salmonella were linked to eggs produced by two Iowa farms, resulted in the recall of 550 million eggs from the U.S. market. Previous years were marked by Salmonella outbreaks in peanut butter products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Salmonella causes more than 500 deaths and 1.4 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year in the United States alone.

"What exactly is Salmonella? Salmonella is a genus of bacteria that usually live in animals' and humans' intestines and are transferred by feces. Contaminated food or water is the most common means of Salmonella infections. Salmonella bacteria may also be passed by infected persons, especially if they do not properly wash their hands. Salmonella bacteria may be present in animal feces. Many reptiles and birds carry Salmonella

"Although over 2,300 serotypes of Salmonella bacteria exist, only a few are responsible for most infections. S. typhi causes typhoid fever, the symptoms of which include high fever, prostration, confusion, respiratory symptoms, diarrhea, and rash. S paratyphi causes paratyphoid fever, which is similar to typhoid fever but less severe." 

Ms. Alford discusses several recent outbreaks of Salmonella poisoning, including those involving peanut products, several restaurants, Barber Foods Inc.'s chicken cordon bleu product, the Subway sandwich chain, contaminated pepper products and eggs. Ms. Alford also offers practice tips for proper handling of Salmonella cases.

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