Tyson and Walmart Answer Complaint Stating that Food Poisoning Was the Plaintiff’s Fault

Tyson Foods, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores East, LP each filed an answer on Friday in the Southern District of Indiana to a complaint alleging that the companies are at fault for personal injury received by the plaintiff, Mary Bussing, from eating Tyson brand ground beef that she purchased at a Walmart store. Bussing claimed that as a result of eating the food prepared using the meat she “was diagnosed with sepsis secondary to colitis secondary to enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli,” also known as E. coli.

Tyson responded to the allegations, noting that some were not directed at Tyson, but at Walmart. The defendant asked for the court to judge against the plaintiff on her allegations. It argued that the complaint did not state a claim against it where relief could be granted. The answer claimed that “the incident, injuries and damages alleged in (the) Plaintiff’s Complaint for Damages were caused solely or contributed to by the acts, omissions, and conduct of Plaintiff Mary Bussing.” 

Tyson further claimed that since the plaintiff’s fault exceeded “fifty percent of the total fault for all personals or entities whose fault proximately contributed” to the alleged personal injuries, the plaintiff should be “barred from recovery.” The company said that if the court determines that the defendants were negligent and contributed in excess of 50 percent of the fault, then the plaintiff’s negligence should still be considered in the amount of damages awarded. The plaintiff reportedly “altered” the condition of the meat from what it was when it left the care of the defendants. 

The defendant said the plaintiff voluntarily incurred the risks associated with cooking ground beef, and that the product was manufactured according to government regulations. It stated that the ground beef purchased by the plaintiff was “neither unreasonably dangerous nor defective.” It also purported that the plaintiff did not preserve the alleged product, as was her duty, taking away the defendant’s “ability to make appropriate investigation.”

Wal-Mart’s answer to the complaint was similar to Tyson’s; it noted that some allegations were not directed at it, and denied allegations which were. Both Walmart and Tyson were represented by Cruser, Mitchell, Novitz, Sanchez, Gaston & Zimet, LLP. The plaintiff was represented by Wilson Kehoe Winingham LLC.