An Omaha man who says he was made ill with listeriosis from contaminated Colorado cantaloupe is suing the grower, the distributor, a lab that audited the farm for food safety and Kroger Co., the owner of Baker's Supermarket, where he bought the contaminated melon.
Six people in Nebraska were made ill by the contaminated melons, and one, George Drinkwalter, 81, of Cody, died.
Nationally, it was one of the deadliest food poisoning outbreaks in American history and has just lately subsided after making 139 people ill since late summer, killing 29 and wrecking the reputation of Rocky Ford melons, a standard in the food industry for generations.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Nebraska, Dale L. Braddock of Omaha sued Jensen Farms of Colorado, the Kroger Co. of Ohio, Frontera Produce of Texas and Primus Group of California, the company that performed a food safety audit at Jensen Farms last summer.
The cases in Nebraska confirmed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, other than Drinkwalter's in Cherry County and Braddock and his daughter in Douglas County, were in Gage, Hitchcock and Seward counties.
Braddock said he bought a contaminated melon at Baker's, which has several stores in Omaha, in August, and both he and his daughter were made ill. On Sept. 4, he was taken to a hospital by ambulance, according to the lawsuit.
It wasn't until Sept. 14 that Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall, and not until Sept. 19 did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announce it found listeria bacteria in cantaloupes from Jensen Farms.
Braddock asked for compensation for his injuries and damages, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief, without specifying a dollar amount. His lawsuit demands a jury trial in Omaha.