Man Sues Wal-Mart Over Tainted Peppers

Wal-Mart, which is being sued over a Colorado store purchase, said it destroyed all Mexico-grown jalapeños following an FDA warning last month.
Wal-Mart, which is being sued over a Colorado store purchase, said it destroyed all Mexico-grown jalapeños following an FDA warning last month. (By Gregory Bull -- Associated Press)

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By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Colorado man is suing Wal-Mart and an unnamed supplier, saying that he fell ill after eating jalapeño peppers bought from the company tainted with the same strain of salmonella that has infected more than 1,300 people over the past three months.

Brian Grubbs' wife purchased the peppers at a Wal-Mart store in Cortez, Colo., on June 26, according to the lawsuit. Grubbs eats them raw on sandwiches and said in the suit that within a few days he began experiencing diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, among other symptoms. He also claimed that he was severely dehydrated and could not walk without assistance.

Tests of his stool and the peppers were positive for Salmonella saintpaul, according to the lawsuit. Federal health officials on Wednesday identified jalapeño and serrano peppers from a Mexican farm as the source of the outbreak, which initially was linked to tomatoes.

The suit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Colorado, alleges that Wal-Mart and its supplier were negligent in distributing and selling tainted peppers and liable for the quality of its merchandise, among other claims.

"Hopefully, this lawsuit will send Wal-Mart a bit of a message that they are just as responsible as the farmer in Mexico for providing healthful food," attorney William Marler said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Davis Moore said the retailer had not yet reviewed the suit and would not comment on Grubbs' claims. She said the company destroyed all Mexico-grown jalapeños following a U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning on July 25.

"Obviously, food safety is very important to us. It's a matter we take very seriously," she said. "We'll take a very close look at it."


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