Sheetz Settles Tomato Lawsuit

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Sheetz Settles Tomato Lawsuit

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Convenience store operator Sheetz Inc. settled a key lawsuit pertaining to tainted tomatoes it sold in 2004 out of court, according to an order issued by Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva, which was cited by the Altoona Mirror and later confirmed by Sheetz attorney Gary Zimmerman.

The lawsuit, filed by Max Christian Anslinger, claimed that he became sick after consuming tomatoes infected with salmonella in July 2004, the report stated. The Ansliger case was the one of the last remaining civil suit filed against the company that stemmed from the tomato incident, according to the report. In July 2006, CSNews Online reported the company settled more than 80 lawsuits connected with the tomatoes, with the hopes of settling an additional 50.

Anslinger, a married father of twins, claimed he suffered from gastrointestinal and arthritis problems caused by the salmonella, CSNews Online reported.

The tainted tomatoes were primarily received from its vegetable wholesaler at the time, Coronet Foods, located in Wheeling, W. Va., the Mirror reported. Coronet subsequently declared bankruptcy in October 2004 after customers began filing lawsuits.

As a result, hundreds of lawsuits were filed and Coronet, the retailer's other suppliers and farmers were added to the list of defendants, the report stated.

In August 2007, CSNews Online reported that Judge Kopriva dismissed a group of tomato suppliers and farmers from the case -- Procacci Brothers Sales Corp. of Philadelphia, Consumer Produce Co. Inc. of Pittsburgh and six farms or other businesses that could have grown the tomatoes -- leaving Coronet and Sheetz as the sole defendants in the civil case.

Now, the only remaining lawsuit in Blair County is from Sheetz against Coronet for lost profits due to the incident, the Mirror reported.

Kopriva also set deadlines for both sides to complete investigations into the salmonella outbreak, the report stated. Sheetz' attorney, Zimmerman, estimated the Coronet case will be tried in Blair County in the latter half of 2008, according to the report.