Wal-Mart facing wrongful death lawsuit by Wyoming man claiming wife died of food poisoning

by John Chapman

In September 2011, Frederick Lollar purchased a cantaloupe at a Wyoming Wal-Mart store and enjoyed it at home with his wife Jacqueline. He ate about one-quarter of the fruit and let his wife eat the rest. When Mr. Lollar returned to the same Wal-Mart store to purchase more cantaloupe, he could not locate any on the store’s shelves. Lollar asked a store employee and was told that they were out of cantaloupe and more would arrive soon.

However, the employee failed to mention that the reason for the lack of cantaloupe was due to a recall of the fruit by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, Wal-Mart did not have any signs or notices posted informing customers that the cantaloupes may have been contaminated. Unknown to the Lollars, the FDA had determined that the cantaloupes could have been contaminated and should be removed from store shelves.

Mr. and Mrs. Lollar both became sick. Three days later, Lollar took his wife to the hospital. Mrs. Lollar died the next day and testing revealed that Listeria monocytogenes were present in her blood.

The FDA later identified the lot the store’s cantaloupe came from to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Lollar’s lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart removed the cantaloupes but didn’t post public notice regarding potential customer exposure. Lollar has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wal-Mart alleging both that the Wal-Mart store sold contaminated cantaloupe and that the store failed to let customers know they may have purchased contaminated food.

Food Poisoning and Your Rights

If you or a loved one were seriously injured as a result of food poisoning, you may be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. You will need an experienced and knowledgeable law firm that can guide you through the legal process and obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. Our lawyers approach every case with the assumption it will be tried to 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, our meticulous attention to detail ensures that our clients achieve maximum value for their claim.

Food poisoning lawsuits are based on the relatively straightforward idea that you have been sold a defective product that has injured you. Many states have adopted strict product liability laws which mean that a consumer just needs to show the food was contaminated and that the contamination was the cause of the illness. An injured consumer could also pursue a claim for negligence by showing that the defendant was not reasonably careful in making or distributing the contaminated food product.

We have seen food poisoning litigation involving E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and botulism. It can be quite difficult to prove a link between the food you ate and contamination. Sometimes a government health agency has traced an outbreak of food poisoning to a particular source. Scientific testing is often necessary to determine the particular type of disease-causing microbes that were present in the contaminated food involved.

It takes considerable resources to successfully pursue a claim against a major food producer, large national retailer or franchise restaurant. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. For example, in 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

In addition, Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and have been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed and you feel a retailer, restaurant or food producer may be responsible, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.