Lawsuits saddle peanut butter industry

As the peanut butter death toll rises (seven so far, three of them in Minnesota) so too do the lawsuits. Local firm and foodborne illness specialist Pritzker Olsen is behind two of them.

One was filed Monday on behalf of Shirley Mae Almer, who died Dec. 21 after eating peanut butter at a Crow Wing County nursing home.

The other, which is pending, will be filed on behalf of the family of Doris Flatgard, who died in Brainerd Jan. 4 also after consuming contaminated product.

The scandal's tentacles are far-reaching, and with new accusations that a Georgia plant knew that its peanut butter had tested positive for salmonella -- and shipped it anyway -- it's all sounding more and more Peanutbuttergate by the minute.

In response to this news, a lawsuit filed in Georgia on behalf of a family whose son got salmonella was updated to include punitive damages charging the Peanut Corporation of America factory with reckless and malicious misconduct for its actions.

"We do not allege punitive damages in most cases," attorney Bill Marler (of the firm Marler Clark) says in a press release. "Just the most egregious. In fifteen years of litigating food cases, this is one of the worst examples of corporate irresponsibility I have ever seen. Not only does the plant appear to have had atrocious practices, but the product that seems to have repeatedly tested positive for Salmonella but was shipped to hospitals, nursing homes and schools regardless."