Peanut Company Executives Face Criminal Charges for Salmonella Poisoning By Tod Aronovitz | 02/22/13 | 0 Comment

Peanut Corporation of America (“PCA”), a company that is now out of business, offers an extreme example of product liability. More than 700 consumers across the country became ill from tainted PCA peanut products in 2007 through 2009, resulting in nine deaths.

Product liability is an area of the law that holds manufacturers, distributors, and retailers responsible for injuries caused by the products they make or distribute to the public.

Yesterday the Department of Justice indicted several PCA executives on criminal charges alleging that the company misled customers about the presence of food borne pathogens, including salmonella, in peanut products produced by PCA.

Former PCA president Stewart Parnell, his brother Michael Parnell, a food broker, and Samuel Lightsey, former operations manager, are three of several executives being charged with multiple counts of criminal behavior, including:

  • Interstate shipment fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Lying to FDA inspectors
  • Introducing adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud

Additionally, company executives allegedly fabricated the “certificates of analysis” (COAs) that accompanied product shipments. The COAs falsely stated that shipments of peanut products were free of pathogens when, in fact, “there had been no tests on the products at all or when the laboratory results showed that a sample tested positive for salmonella.”

Civil charges are usually brought in product liability cases; criminal charges against executives are quite rare.

“The charges announced today show that if an individual violates food safety rules or conceals relevant information, we will seek to hold them accountable,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.   “The health of our families and the safety of our food system is too important to be thwarted by the criminal acts of any individual or company.”

ARONOVITZ LAW: Representing Florida Consumers in Product Liability Cases

The Miami product liability law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW pursues justice for those who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. We can assist you with civil litigation, consumer class action litigation, whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death.

Contact Miami product liability attorney Tod Aronovitz for a confidential discussion of your case.