ConAgra Foods, Inc. has asked a multidistrict litigation (MDL) court to sever and transfer the claims of 68 plaintiffs from 14 different states in an action (Bowman v. ConAgra Foods, Inc.) recently filed against the company arising out of the purported Salmonella contamination of its peanut butter. In re: ConAgra Peanut Butter Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1845 (N.D. Ga., motion filed November 24, 2009). The motion is similar to one filed earlier in November. Additional details about that motion appear in issue 327 of this Update.

While ConAgra does not object to the court retaining jurisdiction over the Bowman claims for purposes of pre-trial proceedings, it asks that the plaintiffs’ claims be severed and transferred for trial because they were improperly joined and “because trial of these claims as a single action is likely to result in undue prejudice to the litigants and confusion to the jury,” which would have to apply the law of 14 states to the claims. According to the company, little evidence remains in Georgia, and the plaintiffs have no factual or legal nexus to the MDL court’s district.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.