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Woman sues Costco for contracting Hepatitis A from berries

A Long Beach, California, woman is suing Costco and Townsend Farms for negligence, alleging that she contacted Hepatitis A from frozen berries bought from the store. The woman's products liability suit alleges that the store failed to make sure that the berries were free from disease and that they were also improperly sanitized. The woman allegedly contracted Hepatitis A after buying the berries to eat with her yogurt. The woman experienced fatigue, chills, muscle and joint pain, vomiting and also noticed yellowing of the eyes and skin and darkened urine. She was hospitalized and placed in isolation and is expected to make a full recovery.

There have been over 30 cases of Hepatitis A contracted from eating berries grown by Townsend Farms, including seven in California and two in San Bernardino County specifically. It is thought that the disease was spread by tainted Turkish Pomegranate seeds in the fruit mix. Since Costco sold the mix in its store until May 2, and the incubation period for the disease can be up to 50 days, it is possible there are infected people who have not manifested the symptoms yet.

Products liability is a legal doctrine that contends that a manufacturer or distributor is liable for damages from a defective product if that product was defective when it left the defendant's control. In this way, companies are held liable for the damages that their products cause the public. In this particular case, it is alleged that the berries were tainted when they left Costco and Townsend Farms' control, and thus those parties are liable for damages to the woman for their failure to make the berries safe.

Anyone injured as a result of defective or unsafe products is entitled to seek monetary damages from the defendant. The victim may seek a personal injury judgment against the defendant for negligence and may also seek an adequate compensation for any injury or pain and suffering incurred from the defective or unsafe product. Anyone injured in a products liability case has the legal right to seek justice.

Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram, "Lakewood Woman sues Costco after contracting Hepatitis A," Greg Mellen, June 4, 2013.

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