Three Minnesotans have filed what is believed to be the first lawsuit after at least 79 people in nine states became ill from eating Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad last month.
The three plaintiffs, Kami Rogers of Stewartville, Minn., her son Tyler Rogers of Pine Island, and her mother Margaret Reiner of Chatfield, ate the tainted pasta salad in early July and became sickened by it within a few days.
Kami Rogers bought the salad on July 5 at the Hy-Vee on Service Drive in Winona, Minn., according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.
Des Moines-based Hy-Vee voluntarily recalled the store-brand pasta sold in containers and in Hy-Vee deli cases produced between June 1 and July 13 in all 244 Hy-Vee stores in eight states, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The pasta was produced at D & D Foods Inc. in Omaha, a Hy-Vee subsidiary, according to Hy-Vee spokeswoman Tina Potthoff. The containers had expiration dates ranging from June 22 to Aug. 3.
"We want our customers to know that food safety is by far our top priority," Potthoff said in a statement. "We continue to work with the FDA and CDC on this investigation. We also are conducting our own investigation at the Omaha., Neb., facility where the product was produced to ensure we are doing our due diligence in investigating this matter. At this time we are not selling the product."
The lawsuit was filed by Jardine, Logan and O'Brien in Lake Elmo and Marler Clark, a food safety law firm in Seattle. Bill Marler, managing partner at Marler Clark, said in an e-mail that his firm filed the suit on behalf of the family for two reasons. "Finding out how and why the contamination occurred is important to learn from mistakes and hopefully avoid future ones," Marler said. The second reason was to "fairly compensate the clients for medical bills, wage loss, and pain and suffering."
A dollar amount is not specified in the suit, but Marler said he believes it to be more than $75,000.
Marler, who was a keynote speaker at a Hy-Vee conference on food safety a few years ago, thinks that D & D generally has a good food safety record, but he wants to get to the reasons why these issues are occurring. In 2015 and 2017, D & D recalled macaroni salad and pepperoni pizza for Hy-Vee that were not adequately labeled for certain ingredients, such as milk, wheat and lecithin.
Eighteen people have been hospitalized from last month's salmonella outbreak in the Hy-Vee pasta salad, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with no deaths reported. Illnesses started as early as June 21 and as late as July 15.