Lawsuit blames death on Dole plant salad, listeria

Associated Press

Springfield, Ohio — An Ohio woman died because she ate salad processed at a Dole plant linked to a listeria outbreak, her relatives said in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawsuit said that 79-year-old Ellen DiStefano died in February, more than a month after she became ill after eating a salad that was packaged at Dole’s Springfield plant, the Springfield News-Sun reported. The food processor is accused in the lawsuit of failing to prevent contamination.

The lawsuit is meant to “seek justice” for DiStefano’s family and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again, said Natalia Steele, an attorney for the Franklin County woman’s estate.

Westlake Village, California-based Dole declined to comment on the litigation. In a separate lawsuit, Dole denied responsibility in a claim alleging a woman went into a coma after eating salad tainted by listeria.

Officials tracking the outbreak said 19 people reported illnesses in several states, and one person died in Michigan. The plant shut down for about three months.

Steele said it’s unclear why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t include DiStefano on its list of deaths linked to the outbreak. A CDC spokeswoman wouldn’t comment as to why her case wasn’t on the list.

The bacteria sometimes found in raw vegetables can lead to a gastrointestinal infection.