Family sues after local woman dies from tainted cucumber

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO -- A local produce importer is facing multiple lawsuits after their cucumbers were found to be the source of a deadly Salmonella outbreak.

Attorney Ron Simon brought the suits against Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce following two deaths and dozens of illnesses connected to the cucumbers.

San Diego resident Mildred Hendricks and another person out of state died after eating cucumbers, imported from Mexico, contaminated with salmonella. More than 300 people across the country went to the emergency room in August after eating tainted cucumbers.

“When importers bring food into this country, they are literally putting their customers' lives in to their own hands," said Simon.  "Unfortunately Mildred paid the ultimate price.”

“The problem when you import food from other countries that don’t have the regulatory system like we have is that they are grown and packaged in handled in conditions that are unsanitary,” added Simon.

The Centers For Disease Control soon realized they had an outbreak and isolated the DNA strain of bacteria to A & W.

“[The CDC] went to Andrew Williamson and pulled them off the line – they were positive – they went other restaurants and retailers and pulled the cucumbers off the line they were positive," said Simon.

Responding to the outbreak, the company issued a statement on their website saying in part, as soon as they learned their product may have been the source they recalled the cucumbers and are currently investigating.

A&W also stated that the health and welfare of consumers is their highest priority and the company spends millions of dollars on food safety.

The company has no previous safety violations, but for family members of 99-year old Mildred Hendricks, it’s too little too late.

“She was looking forward to her 100th birthday in December, " said Simon.  "So the family wants me figure out what happened affect change so it doesn’t happen again.”

To assist victims of the outbreak, Simon's law firm has established a salmonella claim center which can be reached toll-free at 1-888-335-4901.