A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in California federal court on behalf of all consumers who purchased defendant Taylor Farms’ romaine lettuce products that were allegedly contaminated with E. coli. Filed against Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. and two subsidiaries, Walmart, Inc., and Sam’s West, Inc., the 26-page lawsuit alleges that while Taylor Farms markets its romaine lettuce as “triple washed and ready to enjoy,” this rosy picture is misleading because, for a “significant time period” in 2018, the lettuce was soiled with “a harmful and even deadly” strain of the bacteria.
Kicking off the complaint is a statement released on April 10, 2018, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing the agency was investigating possible causes of the outbreak of E. coli infections. Three days later, the suit goes on, the CDC said epidemiologic evidence pointed toward chopped romaine lettuce as the likely source of the outbreak, with preliminary details indicating that this particular strain of E. coli—strain O157:H7—as possibly originating from farms in the Yuma, Arizona region. On April 18, the CDC added that the number of reported infections was growing, with 31 people now hospitalized.
“As of April 25, 2018, the CDC reported people across 25 states had reported E. coli infections linked to the lettuce grown in Yuma,” according to the lawsuit. “There was also one recorded death due to the E. coli infection in California.”
The case pins Walmart and Sam’s Club’s role back to April 15, when Sam’s Club’s vice president of food safety announced a recall, saying the company was notified that “Taylor Farms, as a result of a [CDC] public advisory, has initiated a withdrawal” on certain items due to possible E. coli contamination.
The below Taylor Farms products were mentioned in that advisory notice and recalled by Sam’s Club, the case says:
- Taylor Farms Fiesta Chopped Salad Kit with Grilled Chicken, 9/17.5 oz. (UPC 8- 24862-02018-7);
- Taylor Farms Southwest Chopped Salad 10/12.55 oz. (UPC 8-24862-00632-7);
- Taylor Farms Asian Chopped Salad, 10/13 oz. (UPC 8-24862-00630-3);
- Taylor Farms Asian Chopped Salad, 10/15.75 oz. (UPC 0-30223-04149-8);
- Taylor Farms Caesar Kit Family Size 14/16.9 oz. (UPC 0-30223-02557-0);
- Taylor Farms Chopped Romaine 6/2 lb. (UPC 0-30223-04022-4);
- Taylor Farms Romaine Blend 12/2.5 oz. (UPC 0-30223—1124-8); and
- Taylor Farms Farmhouse Bacon Chopped Salad (UPC 0-30223-04114-6).
Walmart also posted on its website a notice regarding potential E. coli contamination yet offered no refunds to customers or posted physical notices in stores, according to the lawsuit.