Minnesota woman files lawsuit against cucumber importer in national Salmonella outbreak

A Minnesota woman filed the first lawsuit in federal court on Monday in connection to the nationwide outbreak of salmonella-tainted cucumbers.  Kathleen Dvergsten, of Farmington, Minn., became ill after eating salad containing Salmonella-tainted cucumbers at a Red Lobster restaurant in Maplewood last month.

The cucumbers were all grown and imported from Mexico by defendant Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, Inc., based in California. To date, 285 people from 27 states have become sickened with Salmonella from Andrew & Williamson cucumbers – 12 are from Minnesota and one death has been reported in California.

The company voluntarily recalled all cucumbers believed to be contaminated with Salmonella on September 4.  

“While it’s good there’s a recall now underway, it didn’t come nearly soon enough,” Bill Marler, food safety advocate and attorney, said.  “One person has died eating what is usually a healthy food and hundreds have been sickened so far. As these cucumbers were sold to restaurants and home cooks, it’s possible the number of illnesses will rise.”

Dvergsten fell ill after her meal on August 12. She was transported by ambulance to Northfield Hospital where she experienced symptoms including severe cramping, vomiting, near constant diarrhea, and muscle pain.

“During her stay in the hospital, Dvergsten’s stool tested culture positive for the cucumber-related outbreak strain of Salmonella,” a press release from Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, stated.

She remained in the hospital for about a week before being transferred to a rehabilitation center.  According to the law firm, she was able to return home on August 28, but is still dealing with the after effects of her illness.