Lawsuit Filed Over Contaminated Turkey - The Associated Press - November 4, 2002

The Associated Press
November 4, 2002

A 98-year-old doctor will be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride over contaminated turkey packaged at a Wampler Foods plant in Montgomery County, the doctor's attorney said.

Dr. Frank Niemtozow, a retired obstetrician, said he got sick after eating turkey cold cuts and then spent two months in the hospital. He was released on Oct. 1 and is the oldest survivor of a listeria outbreak that started in July.

On Monday, Niemtozow will be named the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride.

"He doesn't care about the money," said Chicago attorney Kenneth B. Moll, who is filing the suit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. "He wants to prevent this from happening again."

The strain of Niemtozow's listeria was allegedly traced to Pilgrim's Pride turkey that was made at the plant in Franconia, Montgomery County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that deli meat from the plant is the most likely source of a listeria outbreak that spread across the Northeast this year and is blamed for at least seven deaths and 39 illnesses. But government officials this weekend said they found the same strain in a cooked turkey breast prepared by J.L. Foods Co. Inc. of Camden, N.J.

On Oct. 12, Pilgrim's Pride recalled 27 million pounds of its poultry products. That was the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

Ray Atkinson, a spokesman for Wampler, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment early Monday.