Blue Bell may face lawsuits from consumers, retailers over product recall due to listeria outbreak

by Eric Pearson

Legal experts say that a decision by Blue Bell Creameries to voluntarily recall its complete product line may have been made too late to shield the company from a number of product liability claims filed by injured consumers, as well as lawsuits from distributors and retailers. As we recently reported, Blue Bell issued a recall notice in April 2015 for is full line of ice cream, yogurt, and other frozen treats after it was determined that a listeria outbreak linked to the company’s products was caused by bacterial contamination at more than one manufacturing plant.

Reports have recently emerged that Blue Bell knew as far back as 2013 of listeria contamination at the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma facility where many of its products were manufactured. The reports indicated that positive tests for listeria were recorded in 2013, 2014, and 2015 by FDA investigators, but that Blue Bell failed to adequately modify its cleaning procedures in order to prevent future contamination from occurring.

Speaking about the Blue Bell recall, legal experts said that by voluntarily recalling its entire product line from stores, Blue Bell hoped to reduce its potential liability in lawsuits filed against the company by consumers who were sickened by listeria. However, some experts argue that Blue Bell may have waited too long after learning about reports linking its products to listeria contamination before recalling them from stores. This delay—compounded by the recent FDA reports about contamination at the Blue Bell plant—may lead to a number of lawsuits involving confirmed cases involving listeria infections caused by Blue Bell products, customers who got sick but were unable to confirm the cause of their illness, and medical monitoring cases to treat patients who become infected with listeria in the future.

In addition lawsuits filed against the company by customers who became sick, Blue Bell may also be facing lawsuits involving retailers and distributors involved in the recall. Legal experts predict that Blue Bell may eventually be pulled into personal injury or product liability lawsuits filed against retailers who sold Blue Bell products to consumers. The company may also face lawsuits involving its agreements and contracts with these retailers and distributors, experts say.

Some lawyers have stated that Blue Bell’s success at recovering from the listeria contamination may hinge on the company’s willingness to admit fault in the outbreak and quickly settle any lawsuits filed against the company. Based in Brenham, Texas, Blue Bell has enjoyed a good reputation among consumers as a small-town ice cream manufacturer. It’s ability to move on the from the listeria recall could depend on whether consumers still view the company this way after the lawsuits filed by infected consumers and by commercial partners hurt by contamination at the company’s plants have ended.

Lawsuits Filed Over Food-Borne Illnesses

Despite efforts by the FDA to prevent food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria contamination, thousands of consumers continue to be injured each year by illnesses caused by salmonella, listeria, and other contaminants in their food. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of illnesses caused by contaminated food, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. The first step in filing a lawsuit is talk with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney about your case.

Lawsuits involving contaminated food are based on the notion that you have been sold a defective product that caused injury or illness. In many states, strict product liability laws mean that consumers only must demonstrate that the food products they have eaten were contaminated and that this contamination was the source of their illness. Consumers who develop food-borne illnesses may also be able to pursue negligence claims by demonstrating that the company that sold or distributed the contaminated food product failed to exercise reasonable care.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has seen food poisoning litigation involving E. coli, salmonella, Listeria, and botulism. It takes considerable resources to successfully pursue a claim against a major food producer, large national retailer, or franchise restaurant. The lawyers at our law firm approach each and every case with the assumption it will be tried by a jury. Whether it’s hiring the right experts, obtaining the necessary records, interviewing the key witnesses, or helping our clients get the medical care they need, the meticulous attention to detail of our attorneys and staff ensures that our clients achieve maximum value for their claim.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to illnesses caused by contaminated food products, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal rights. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free legal consultation form and answering a few simple questions about your case.