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Man Files Product Liability Lawsuit Against Blue Bell Creameries

A Houston man's product liability lawsuit claims he suffered serious injuries after eating Listeria-contaminated Blue Bell products. 

Blue Bell Creameries, the iconic Texas ice cream maker, has been embroiled in a financial and public relations crisis since it recalled its products in April because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Blue Bell's difficulties expanded to the courthouse this week after a former Houston resident who alleges that he contracted the disease from eating Blue Bell products sued the Brenham company.

The complaint David Philip Shockley filed on May 19 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas may be the first Listeria-related product liability lawsuit against Blue Bell since the company issued a limited recall of some products in March in response to evidence of a Listeria infestation. Shockley alleges that he developed a "severe listeriosis infection" after he ate a variety of Blue Bell ice cream products contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. "The bacteria infected plaintiff's blood and migrated to his brain, where it caused extensive damage, leaving him unconscious and near death," Shockley alleges in the complaint. "Plaintiff survived but even after well over a year of intensive neurological treatment, therapy and rehabilitation, he continues to suffer from ... cognitive, emotional, behavioral, motor, language and speech-related dysfunction." Blue Bell spokesman Joe Robertson declined to comment on the allegations in Shockley v. Blue Bell Creameries. "We are aware of the lawsuit that has been filed, and we take all such matters very seriously. That said, we hope you will understand that because this situation involves litigation, we are not able to discuss any details of the matter," Robertson wrote in an email. In his complaint, Shockley alleges he regularly ate single-serving Blue Bell ice cream products and occasionally other Blue Bell products while at work as associate executive director and nursing facility administrator at a retirement community in Houston. He alleges that some of the Blue Bell ice cream products he ate contained Listeria monocytogenes. Shockley alleges that he is particularly vulnerable to food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes because of immunosuppressive medications he took in 2012 and 2013 for ulcerative colitis. He alleges that in October 2013, he developed a very severe headache with nausea and light sensitivity, and emergency room personnel diagnosed him with a migraine and sent him home, but he lost consciousness several hours later. Friends and co-workers later found him "unresponsive, pale, febrile and in clear respiratory distress." Shockley alleges that he was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where his temperature reached 107 degrees, he spent five days on artificial respiration, and he did not fully regain consciousness for six days. "To his horror, when he did regain consciousness, he was unable to walk, talk, swallow or move much of his body," Shockley alleges in the complaint. Shockley alleges that he was "definitively diagnosed" with Listeria meningitis with encephalitis, and after months of "grueling inpatient rehabilitation," he returned home and eventually moved back home with his parents in Snow Hill, Maryland. He alleges that he is no longer able to work because of "severe neurological impairment, long hospitalizations and ongoing treatment," and his condition is permanent. He alleges that his medical bills already total more than $400,000 and that he has already lost at least $185,000 in earnings. Shockley brings these causes of action against Blue Bell: strict product liability, negligence, negligence per se, breach of implied warranties and negligent misrepresentation. He seeks compensatory damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and other noneconomic damages to be determined at trial; economic damages for medical expenses, lost earnings and lost earning capacity; punitive damages for the "wanton, willful, fraudulent, reckless acts" of Blue Bell; interest and costs. As alleged in the complaint, the Centers for Disease Control, while investigating a cluster of listeriosis infections in Kansas, determined that a single-serving Blue Bell product called Scoops was the common food source for five patients. In response, on March 13, 2015, Blue Bell recalled products from an implicated product line, and on March 23, the company expanded the recall to include single-service 3-ounce institutional food service cups of ice cream, Shockley alleges in the complaint. Originally posted by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys on Product Liability Lawsuit - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

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