Vulto Creamery: Putney man identified in Listeria lawsuit

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BRATTLEBORO — In a lawsuit filed in New York, a Putney man was identified as the victim of Listeria poisoning.

According to the lawsuit, Richard Friedman, 73, died after suffering from a stroke, 23 days after he was hospitalized for Listeria poisoning.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Marler Clark, based in Seattle, and Underberg & Kessler, on behalf of Veronica Friedman, the victim's wife, and states that the Friedman's purchased raw milk cheese tainted with Listeria, which was produced by Vulto Creamery of Walton, N.Y.

This is the first lawsuit to be filed against Vulto Creamery over the outbreak that originated from its New York facility.

The Friedmans purchased the cheese, sometime in early October 2016 and on Oct. 11, Richard Friedman went to the Emergency Room at Brattleboro Hospital. He was transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical center on Oct. 12, where he stayed for a week and a half before being transferred to Mt. Ascutney Rehab in Windsor. On Oct. 31, while at the rehab facility, he suffered a massive stroke, and was airlifted back to Dartmouth-Hitchcock where he died on Nov. 2.

According to the press release announcing the lawsuit, the stroke was caused by the Listeriosis infection.

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The Listeria outbreak from Vulto Creamery, which makes raw cheeses, has been under investigation since Jan. 31 by the FDA, CDC, and state and local health departments. On March 7, Vulto Creamery issued a recall of its Ouleout cheese along with Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowmere cheeses. On March 9, the FDA and CDC positively identified Vulto Creamery's Ouleout cheese as the source of the outbreak.

This outbreak of Listeriosis has sickened six people in four states — Connecticut, Florida, New York, and Vermont — two of those six, including Richard Friedman, have died. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Sept. 1, 2016, to Jan. 22, 2017.

"People think of food poisoning as inconvenient rather than really dangerous," said Bill Marler, attorney for the plaintiff and top food safety attorney. "But the reality is that what you eat can seriously damage or even kill you. Food providers have a responsibility to protect the lives of their customers, especially when producing raw milk products, which pose a higher risk to consumers."

Also named in the lawsuit are "John Does 1-3, 1-3, whose identities and citizenship are presently unknown, were involved in the manufacture, distribution, and/or sale of the product that caused decedent's death and plaintiff's associated injuries."

Vulto Creamery is at fault, contends the lawsuit, for producing a product that was "defective and unreasonably dangerous" and for not properly training or supervising its employees.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow him on Twitter @audette.reformer.


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