Missouri Family Sickened by Salmonella Sues ConAgra

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A northwest Missouri couple Friday filed the first federal lawsuit against ConAgra Foods Incorporated over the salmonella outbreak linked to its peanut butter, and the Seattle attorney representing the family said more suits will follow.

The lawsuit filed in US District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, claims that Brian and Susanna Cox of St. Joseph -- and their two children -- are regular customers of a Wal-Mart Superstore where they regularly purchased Great Value Peanut Butter, made by Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra.

The suit says Susanna and the two children, Malachi and Elliot, began developing gastrointestinal illnesses in October after consuming the peanut butter, and the two children required treatment at an urgent care center. But unaware of the product's link to their illness, the family continued to consume it.

The lawsuit doesn't say how much peanut butter the family consumed since October, but the suit saud by the time ConAgra and the Food and Drug Administration announced a product recall Wednesday night, Elliott was sick again. The Cox family had four jars of the peanut butter in their home, all with the lot code 2111.

Shoppers across the country were warned to throw out jars with a product code on the lid beginning with "2111," which denotes the plant where it was made.

Seattle-based attorney William Marler said the lawsuit is the first in the outbreak that has sickened nearly 300 people in 39 states since August, including 13 in Missouri.

He said today that 450 people had contacted his law firm this week. He plans to file additional cases in the next few days and then move to consolidate them.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)