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Kansas Families Sue Over Tainted Cantaloupe

At least three lawsuits have been filed in Kansas over illnesses caused by cantaloupe tainted with the deadly bacteria known as listeria. The 2011 outbreak infected 147 people in 28 states, 11 of them in Kansas.

Thirty three people died and one pregnant woman miscarried because of the illness. Two lawsuits have been filed in Sedgwick County.

The case filed on behalf of Charyl Rutherford, of Haysville, says she’ll need medical care for the rest of her life. The other case was filed by the family of David Weimer, of Wichita, who died in September of 2011.

They’re represented by prominent food safety attorney Bill Marler of Seattle. In a video on Marler’s website, Weimer’s fiancé, Kathy Meyer, says Weimer was just recovering from chemotherapy for leukemia, and was awaiting a stem cell transplant.

“The Friday before he died, he had a message on his answering machine that he had donors to go get the stem cell," she said. "He was that close. And then for something like this to hit, and we find out it’s a cantaloupe? It made no sense.”

Another lawsuit filed by Marler is pending in Johnson County District Court. William Madden, of Shawnee Mission, was hospitalized for nearly four months after eating cantaloupe at a restaurant in Prairie Village.