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Listeria Lawyer

If you have suffered from listeriosis due to contaminated food, contact us. The Listeria lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC offer free consultations and can help you explore your legal options.

Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes the serious infection known as listeriosis is a scary microorganism even for normally healthy individuals. But for the very young, the very old, those with a compromised immune system, and pregnant women, listeria infections can cause severe consequences.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates each year 1,600 people in the United States experience listeriosis.  The CDC also estimates that each year about 260 Americans will die from this infection. This makes Listeria monocytogenes infection the third leading cause of death due to foodborne illness.

How Can a Listeria Lawyer Help?

A severe Listeria infection can mean weeks or even months of recovery. As a result, you may be left with medical bills and expenses piling up while you take time off work to recover. Figuring out who can be held liable and dealing with filing a claim on top of that can be overwhelming. A Listeria lawyer can handle every aspect of your case for you. They will be able to advise you as to what your rights are, what options may be available to you, and what steps you should take to seek the compensation you’re entitled to by law.

They will investigate and gather evidence to pinpoint the source of the infection and determine which parties are liable. A Listeria lawsuit will fall under product liability law, which holds those involved with the distribution of a defective product liable for any harm caused. As a result, it is possible that a large company may be responsible. That means teams of attorneys representing the liable party and their insurance company ready to deny or devalue your claim.

Therefore, navigating a Listeria case will require highly skilled legal counsel that will not back down or be intimidated. An experienced Listeria lawyer will ensure your rights are protected and negotiate the settlement you deserve. If necessary, they will represent you in court and have the resources to hire expert medical and scientific experts to testify how you contracted Listeria, its severity, and the impact it will have on your health in the future. However, with an attorney’s help, most cases can be resolved outside the courtroom before a trial date approaches.

Recovering Compensation for Listeriosis

After suffering from Listeriosis, victims can hold the responsible party accountable for the following types of compensation.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are compensation meant to reimburse a victim for actual financial losses. For example:

  • Medical Bills and Expenses: All past and future costs of medical treatment. For instance, a Listeria infection may include a hospital stay, doctor visits, prescription medications, transportation to and from treatment, etc.
  • Lost Wages: You may need to take time off from work while you recover. Future lost wages and diminished earning capacity can also be included if you cannot return to work or must go into a different position or line of work that pays less.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are types of compensation for the harmful effects of Listeriosis on a person’s life. The value of these losses is subjective as they are not monetary losses. For instance:

  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain or discomfort you endured due to your Listeria infection.
  • Emotional Distress: Emotional distress or mental anguish, such as anxiety, depression, anger, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If you experienced a reduced quality of life or a decrease in your overall life satisfaction due to your illness.

Punitive Damages

In certain cases, it may be possible to obtain punitive damages. Unlike the other types of compensation, punitive damages are designed to punish the liable party. It is typically awarded when the at-fault party’s actions were extremely reckless or intentional.

Who Can Be Held Liable?

Since Listeria is usually caused by eating contaminated food, the parties responsible for preparing, manufacturing, selling, or serving the product can be liable. Oftentimes, multiple parties are named as defendants (at-fault parties) in Listeria cases, but it will depend on the facts of your illness. Examples of commonly liable parties include the following:

  • Restaurants
  • Food suppliers
  • Manufacturers
  • Processors
  • Distributors

In most cases, these parties can be held strictly liable. This means that you do not have to provide proof of their negligence to hold them responsible. Consumers have the right to expect that food products they buy are safe to consume. Therefore, responsible parties can be held liable simply for selling or serving contaminated food. To hold a party strictly liable, you must typically only demonstrate the following:

  • The defendant (at-fault party) distributed or sold a contaminated food product.
  • The product was contaminated when leaving the defendant’s control.
  • You consumed the contaminated food.
  • As a result, the contamination led to your Listeria infection.

Proving these elements can be easier said than done. However, if other individuals also became ill from the same product, evidence linking the connection may be more readily available.

What Should I Do If I Have Listeria

If you are diagnosed with Listeria, continue any recommended treatment, focus on your recovery, and contact a Listeria attorney as soon as possible. When you can, write down everything you can remember eating in the days before you became ill, as well as the following information, if possible:

  • The food you ate
  • When and where you ate it
  • How it was prepared
  • Your daily symptoms
  • How your life has been and is impacted on a daily basis due to your illness

Your physician will likely have already notified the local health department of your Listeria infection. If you wish to contact the agency and make sure it was reported, you can also ask if there have been other recent reports of similar illnesses. However, your attorney will also complete this task on your behalf. They will use your supplied information to immediately begin investigating and preserving evidence.

Wrongful Death in Listeria Cases

Approximately 260 people are killed by Listeria each year. When a family has lost a loved one to Listeriosis, they have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the at-fault parties accountable. Types of compensation available can include:

  • Medical Bills: Any medical bills or related expenses incurred by the victim to treat their illness prior to death.
  • Lost Financial Support: Loss of expected income that the deceased would have provided had they survived.
  • Loss of Consortium: Compensation for the loss of love, companionship, services, etc.
  • Funeral and Burial Costs and Expenses

Each state has its own laws on which parties have the legal right to pursue a Listeria wrongful death lawsuit. However, the people commonly allowed include the victim’s surviving spouse, children, parents, other dependents, or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

What are the Symptoms of Listeria Infection?

Symptoms of listeriosis can vary to some extent from person to person and the specific part of the body infected.  In general, Listeria monocytogenesinfection causes the generic fever and diarrheal illness common to foodborne bugs.  These infections often go unreported.  Sometimes they are attributed to a stomach bug or the person manages symptoms until the infection runs its course without the need of medical attention.  So many cases of listeria infection remain undiagnosed. More invasive listeriosis is often reported though, as the bacteria leaves the intestinal tract and enters other parts of the body which causes additional and more severe symptoms and complications.

Symptoms of invasive listeriosis often begin between 1 and 4 weeks after consuming a food that is contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  However, the CDC reports that some people experience the first onset of symptoms as late as 70 days after exposure, while other develop symptoms as few as one day after exposure. After seeking appropriate medical treatment, consider a free consultation with a listeria lawyer. You may be able to recover compensation for your suffering.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women often experience milder symptoms such as only a fever.  Sometimes they may experience additional flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches or fatigue.  While they seem to get off the hook with fewer personal complications, listeriosis during pregnancy can have dire consequences for the fetus.  This could lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, still birth, or even life-threatening infection of the newborn baby.

Everyone Except Pregnant Women

Depending on the severity and site of infection, people other than pregnant women often experience symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.  They most likely will also experience fever and muscle aches.

 Most Commonly Infected

The people most commonly infected with Listeria monocytogenes are those who fall highest in risk for invasive infection.  This includes people who are pregnant, older than 65 years old, and people with compromised immune systems.

Why is Listeria Concerning for High Risk Individuals?

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than others to become infected with listeriosis.  More specifically, Hispanic women are 24 more times as likely as others to become infected with listeriosis.  Listeria monocytogenesis particularly serious in pregnant women because the infection can pass to unborn babies and affect pregnancy causing preterm labor, miscarriage, or stillbirth.  Listeriosis can cause serious illness and possibly death in newly born babies.

Use Caution with Certain Foods

Pregnant women should protect themselves by avoiding foods that are common carriers for Listeria monocytogenes.  This includes raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products such as cheese or yogurt. Other key foods to avoid include raw or lightly cooked sprouts (including but not limited to clover, alfalfa, mung bean, and radish sprouts). Hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts, or other deli meats, and fermented or dry sausages should be avoided unless heated to an internal temperature of 165 ⁰Fahrenheit.  Take care to avoid juice from hot dog and lunch meat packages from contaminating other surfaces, utensils, or foods.  Wash hands after handling these high-risk food products.

Cut melons should either be consumed right away or refrigerated at 40⁰Fahrenheit (for no longer than 7 days).  If the cut melon has been at room temperature for more than 4 hours, it should be thrown out.  Pregnant women should avoid deli-counter refrigerated pâté or meat spreads and opt for those that are canned or shelf-stable instead.  These products should be refrigerated after opening. Refrigerated smoked seafood should also be avoided unless it is in a cooked dished.  There is also a listeria risk with raw Latin American style cheeses such as: queso fresco, queso blanco, queso blando, queso Cotija, queso panela, queso ranchero, and cuajada en terrón.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Pregnant women who experience fever or other symptoms of listeriosis within two months of eating a high-risk food should contact their health care provider and explain the potential causes so that they can be tested and treated for this serious infection. However, if you are concerned you should seek advice from your health care provider.

Those who are in the high-risk group are those most likely to suffer potential long-term complications or severity of the illness. Some of these groups of people include:

Over 65 Years Old

One in four Listeria monocytogenes infections occur in those who are over 65 years old.  But why does age play such a large role in susceptibility of this infection?

This is a complex question, because many factors are involved.  First, the aging immune system is not as quick to recognize and rid the body of these harmful bugs.  This includes those bugs that are responsible for foodborne illness.  Chronic conditions are fairly common in adults over 65, such as diabetes, cancer, and taking medications that can also weaken the immune system.  The stomach acid changes throughout our lifetime.  It begins to decrease in amount, allowing more germs to survive.

Compromised Immune System

Those with a compromised immune system are also in the high-risk category for Listeria infection.  People with alcoholism diabetes, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, and the more

obvious HIV and AIDS. Those with cancer are 10 times more likely than others to become infected with listeriosis.  Those on dialysis treatment are 50 times more likely to become infected with listeriosis.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Listeria Infections?

Listeria diagnostic tests can vary depending on what types of technology are available to the testing laboratory. Typical diagnosis generally involves a bacterial culture grown from a human sample such as blood, spinal fluid, or placenta on a growth medium known to respond only to Listeria monocytogenes.  Additional genetic analysis is preformed to determine the strain and possibly genetic sequence of the bug so that it can be compared to other cases and potentially linked to an outbreak.

How Do Doctors Treat Listeria Infections?

 Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium.  Bacterial infections such as listeriosis are treated with antibiotics.  But treatment procedures vary and are dependent on the individual and outcomes of diagnostic tests, as well as risk factors.  The antibiotic regimen can be as simple as oral ampicillin or amoxicillin.  But if blood culture indicated blood contamination, intravenous (IV) ampicillin and gentamicin are often in the treatment plan.  And if the infection is invasive and blood infection is indicated, IV ampicillin and gentamicin are often given to patients for between 14 and 21 days.

What are Some Foods that You Should Avoid If You Are in a High Risk Group?

According to FoodSafety.gov, those who are in the high-risk group for Listeria infections should avoid eating:

  • Ready-to-eat deli meats
  • Hot dogs
  • Refrigerated pâtés
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk
  • Raw Milk dairy products
  • Soft cheeses made with raw milk, like queso fresco, Feta, Brie, Camembert
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Raw sprouts

How Can Listeria Infections Be Prevented?

Listeria is one of the new bacteria that thrive in cold environments. This makes it very hard to kill and keep out of a food processing environment, like an ice cream factory. There are some simple things though that can reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk and milk products
  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running tap water
  • Keep raw foods separated from ready-to-eat ones like uncooked meats, poultry, and seafood separate from vegetables, fruits, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as meat, poultry, or seafood to a safe internal temperature.

Contact a Listeria Attorney Today

If you contracted listeriosis from eating contaminated food, our Listeria attorneys can help. Contact the Listeria attorneys at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC if you or a loved one has suffered from this dangerous foodborne illness. Our team of top-rated food safety lawyers can help you recover the compensation you deserve.