Oklahoma Couple Files Lawsuit Against Peanut Butter Maker

Saturday, February 24th 2007, 2:06 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) An Oklahoma City couple has filed a civil lawsuit against the makers of peanut butter that was found to be tainted with salmonella.

James and Candace Fish's lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court seeks more than $500,000 in damages from ConAgra Foods, which they blame for their 15-year-old son's illness.

Jesse Fish was hospitalized Aug. 10-12 after getting sick. Attorney Mike Gassaway said the Fish family was unable to determine how Jesse Fish contracted salmonella, and threw away all their meat, chicken, uncooked eggs and fresh produce, which are typical sources of salmonella.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department confirmed on Aug. 16 that Jesse Fish had contracted salmonella, according to court papers.

The teen was hospitalized again in September, and the family got rid of pet rabbits and started an "extreme hygiene program" that included frequent hand washing, Gassaway said.

"No one ever thought about the peanut butter," he said.

That didn't become clear until Feb. 14, when the Centers for Disease Control and ConAgra announced a recall of some peanut butter because of contamination.

Company officials could not be reached Friday for comment.

Jesse Fish was the only member of the family to get sick, Gassaway said.

The peanut butter tested positive for salmonella after the recall notice, he said. It came from the plant that was announced as the source of the tainted peanut butter.

There have been 10 reported cases of salmonella in Oklahoma, according to the CDC, and 329 cases nationwide.