Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak Brings Lawsuits Against Thomson International

On Monday at least three lawsuits were filed against Thomson International, Inc., a California produce company, which is allegedly at fault for a salmonella outbreak found in red onions. At least 396 people in 34 states were infected by salmonella and 59 hospitalizations were reported. On August 1, Thomson International recalled its onions, including red, yellow, white, and sweet onions, shipped since May 1.

One complaint was filed in the District of Oregon by a 36-year-old man named Matthew Peterson, represented by D’Amore Law Group. He alleged that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified 22 “clusters” of illnesses caused by the salmonella in seven states by July 31, 2020. A cluster is multiple sick people in separate households who reported shopping at the same grocery store or restaurant. The information collected in each of these instances allegedly identified Thomson International, Inc. as the probable source of the red onions and the salmonella.

“When Salmonella is ingested by humans, it can cause severe gastroenteritis called salmonellosis. Symptoms of salmonellosis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Headache, myalgia, and low-grade fever may also accompany salmonellosis,” the complaint stated. “Symptoms usually last for several days, but severe cases can last much longer and result in serious medical complications and death.”

Peterson reportedly purchased and consumed onions from the Fred Meyer store and Wal-mart and began feeling ill on July 2. He claimed he is still suffering from symptoms of Salmonella, which he tested positively for. The Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division linked his sickness to the red onion outbreak. He is seeking damages to cover medical expenses, wage loss, and the pain and suffering he has faced.

Lori Davies also claimed she was impacted by the red onion salmonella outbreak in a District of Oregon complaint. Davies, represented by Sugerman Law Office, alleged she began feeling sick on July 7th, two days after eating a burger with raw onions. She later went to the emergency room and was hospitalized. Her illness was also linked to the outbreak by the Oregon Health Authority. Davies, who is seeking an award “in an amount not to exceed $2 million” filed claims of product liability, breach of warranty, negligence per se, and common law negligence.

The outbreak also stretched into Canada, Marler Clark filed a lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of his client Kendra Cooper, from Alberta, who consumed the onions on a burger she bought from Carl’s Jr. “This is the second U.S. produced food product that has sickened Canadians as well as U.S. citizens in the last 30 days,” said lawyer William Marler. “U.S. producers and regulators need to step up their game or borders will close not only to U.S. citizens due to COVID, but also to food produced in the U.S.”

The recalled onions include various cartons and sacks under multiple brand names including Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, and Food Lion. A majority of the 396 cases were located in Oregon, California, Montana, and Utah.