Case details

Poultry plant: Tainted chicken not a cause of plaintiff’s paralysis





Result type

Not present

Campylobacter Jejuni bacteria, immune system attacks, nerves, paralysis legs
On Dec. 26, 2011, plaintiff Ruth Rivera, 40, a part-time cemetery-plot salesperson, bought raw chicken cutlets from her local grocery store in Los Angeles. The chicken was processed by Foster Poultry Farms. Rivera claimed that the chicken, which she ate after cooking, had the Campylobacter Jejuni bacteria, often found in chicken, which eventually caused Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves and which can lead to paralysis. Rivera sued Foster Poultry Farms under theories of strict product liability (manufacturing defect), breach of implied warranty, and negligence, alleging that the company sold bacteria-infected chicken products to consumers. The company disputed Rivera’s claimed illness from its product and argued that the chicken sold conformed to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for raw meat. , Rivera was hospitalized for several weeks. On Jan 2, 2012, she was reportedly diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. As a result, she suffered partial permanent paralysis and loss of sensation in both legs. She is only able to ambulate using crutches or a wheelchair. She complains that her condition makes it difficult to care for her daughter, who has special needs. Rivera sought $7,500,000 in economic damages, $50 million for non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Rivera’s husband, Leo Lopez, made a derivative claim for loss of consortium for a reported $1 million. Foster Poultry Farms contended that Rivera was unable to prove that its chicken was the source of her food poisoning or of her Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, CA

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