Food Poisoning Lawsuit Seeks to Solve Who is Responsible for Damages

Del Monte Foods has faced complaints of bodily injury from consumers who purchased their vegetable trays, specifically ones which contain items from Midwest Best. Midwest Best and their insurance provider AMCO are facing a lawsuit after allegedly contaminated vegetables were provided to Del Monte. Del Monte alleges that AMCO has a “direct and immediate duty” to defend and indemnify them from the claims.

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., represented by Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, filed the complaint against The Midwest’s Best Produce Company, represented by McCarthy and Leonard, and Amco Insurance Company, represented by Hinshaw & Culbertson in September of 2019 in the Southern District of Florida.

Responses to Del Monte’s complaint by both Midwest Best and AMCO were filed this April. Midwest Best denied many of the allegations in the complaint, citing they were without sufficient information to admit. They did request the complaint be dismissed and a jury trial, claiming the damages were out of their control and they are not legally responsible. “Midwest expressly states that this Court should deny the relief requested by Del Monte in the Complaint,” their response says. It claims that the Continuing Food Guarantee is the best evidence of their agreement and denies anything inconsistent with the agreement. However, their response does admit that Midwest Best agreed to indemnify Del Monte and provides that indemnification through AMCO.

AMCO in their response to the complaint denied that they are the primary insurance for Del Monte in this instance. They claim Del Monte “is not an additional insured,” and they have no responsibility to pay in any cause of the food poisoning.

The initial complaint claims their vegetable trays, which typically contain broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots, and dill dip supplied by other vendors, received complaints.  The trays investigated by state health departments after an increase in Cyclospora infections had broccoli crowns, celery, and cauliflower supplied by Midwest Best. These vegetables were included in trays sold in various locations, including Kwik Trip convenience stores in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Del Monte said they withdrew the vegetable trays and issued a recall after the reports, and they were presented with claims for damages. Del Monte attached an agreement between it and Midwest Best, claiming they had agreed to indemnify Del Monte from complaints and maintain insurance on its behalf. Del Monte claims that it is insured under the AMCO policy owned by Midwest Best, however, AMCO allegedly informed Del Monte “without explanation” that it is only obligated to pay 20 percent of the costs incurred by the food poisoning event.