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$1.1 MIllion Judgement Awarded in Sangar Listeria Death Lawsuit

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The family of an 81-year-old Texas man who died from a Listeria infection was awarded a $1.1 million default judgment against Sangar Fresh Cut Produce, reported the Houston Chronicle. In 2010, Hermillo Castellano was one of five deaths in a Listeria outbreak caused by cut celery produced by the company.

On Tuesday, State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe ruled in favor of Castellano’s family after Sangar failed to appear in court.

In January, Hermillo Castellano’s wife, Elizabeth, filed a lawsuit against the company alleging their produce caused the death of her husband.

In May 2010, while Castellano was a patient at Methodist Hospital he was fed celery produced by Sangar and developed severe gastrointestinal symptoms. As a result, he died three weeks later.

After an inspection, the Texas Department of State Health Services closed the San Antonio produce company saying the celery produced by Sangar posed “an immediate and serious threat to human life or health,” reported KENS5 News.

The department also recalled thousands of pounds of produce distributed to more than 300 customers, including restaurants, hospitals, school districts and military facilities.

Following six cases of listeriosis linked to Sangar produce, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration conducted an investigation of the company and found their processed celery was contaminated with Listeria bacteria. The agency also confirmed that Listeria bacteria were located in multiple food contact surfaces and other locations within the plant.

Listeriosis symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. The illness is most dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, very young children, and those with weakened immune systems.

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