Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company responsible for the nationwide salmonella scare involving peanut products, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy filing comes as no surprise. The hundreds of people sickened by Salmonella will result in millions of dollars in claims against the company. Additionally, the millions of dollars in products which have been recalled will result in additional claims against the company by the purchasers of the tainted peanut products.
PCA’s insurer, Hartford Casualty Insurance, has filed a lawsuit in an effort to limit its liability.
PCA’s products have been linked to nine deaths and 636 cases of food poisoning in 44 states, including one case in Steuben County, New York, and more claims are expected to follow. Records released during congressional hearings last week showed the company continued to ship its products even after they tested positive for the deadly bacteria.
The bankruptcy filings show that the company carries debt with between 100 and 199 creditors and faces between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities.
The bankruptcy filing has the effect of “staying” all claims filed against PCA, but does not bar new claims from being filed. A “stay” means that all filed claims are stuck in limbo, with neither side able to conduct any action in relation to the claim. An action can be brought in Bankruptcy Court to lift the stay.
Reports indicate that PCA carried only $24 million worth of liability insurance to satisfy all claims. This means that anyone having a potential claim should act immediately to preserve their rights.
Salmonella is a serious illness that can be fatal to children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system. It causes nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
If you think you may have contracted Salmonella from the tainted peanut products you should see your doctor and be tested for Salmonella. Testing will confirm both the fact that you have Salmonella (as opposed to some other intestinal illness) and also confirm that the strain of salmonella you have is the same strain indicated in this peanut product outbreak.
If you have a package of the recalled peanut products and believe you may have contracted Salmonella DO NOT THROW IT OUT!!! Instead, secure the package so that no one else will consume it, attempt to locate your sales receipt showing your purchase of the contaminated product and consult legal counsel immediately.
The Ziff Law Firm will be accepting salmonella cases related to this peanut product recall, as we have in previous food-borne illness cases.
Thanks for reading,
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901