Townsend Farms and Costco Sued over Hepatitis Outbreak
The estate and survivors of an 89-year-old woman who died after eating
imported pomegranate seeds linked to a Hepatitis A outbreak have filed a
wrongful death lawsuit against Townsend Farms Inc., Costco Wholesale
Corp. and others alleging strict liability for a product defect, negligence
and breach of implied warranties. Schelitzche v. Townsend Farms Inc.,
No. BC576437 (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles Cty., filed March 23, 2015).
The complaint details the 2013 outbreak of Hepatitis A virus, which
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, and state and local health agencies apparently traced
to 3-pound bags of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen
berries sold at Costco. The plaintiffs seek wrongful-death and survival
damages and other general, punitive and exemplary damages. While the
plaintiffs’ suit is the first to claim wrongful-death damages, details of
other lawsuits stemming from the same Hepatitis A outbreak appear in
Issues 486 and 489 of this Update.