Schnucks accuses third party Vaughan for selling E.coli contaminated produce

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 24, 2013

Schnucks has filed a third party complaint against its produce provider for allegedly selling it contaminated lettuce, resulting in two customers contracting E.coli.

According to the original complaint filed by Tiffany and Thomas Sinovic on March 4, Schnucks is blamed for causing food poisoning after Tiffany and her daughter Addison consumed romaine lettuce from the food bar on Oct. 19, 2011. They claim they were hospitalized for several days and later diagnosed with shiga toxin and the food borne illness E.coli.

Schnucks Markets, Inc. and all employee defendants filed their third party complaint on Oct. 17 through attorneys Gerard T. Noce, Michael Reda and Matthew Noce of HeplerBroom LLC in St. Louis against Vaughan Foods Inc.

Vaughan is described as an “Oklahoma corporation that processes and distributes fresh vegetables, among other items, to Schnucks’ to be sold at its retail locations.”

The Schnucks parties claim in their third party complaint that if they are found liable in the Sinovic complaint, then Vaughan should be held responsible to Schnucks.

“As part of the terms of the sales agreement with Schnucks, Vaughan agreed to indemnify and hold harmless Schnucks against any and all liabilities, claims, losses, damages, fines, penalties, costs and expenses,” the third party complaint states.

In the defendants’ two-count complaint, they bring warranty claims and contribution against Vaughan.

In Count I, the defendants claim, “Vaughan expressly warranted that the romaine lettuce it sold and delivered to Schnucks was safe for human consumptions and free of pathogens including but not limited to E.coli.”

In Count II, the defendants argue that Vaughan breached its duty to Schnucks to provide safe produce.

“Vaughan owed a duty to Schnucks to use reasonable care in the promotion, marketing, sale, growing, transportation and distribution of their romaine lettuce to ensure that the products did not infect ultimate consumers with E.coli or other dangerous pathogens,” the complaint states.

The defendants also claim there are entitled to contribution from Vaughan for liability.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson granted the Sinovics’ motion to leave to file an amended complaint to add additional parties on Oct. 15.

Schnucks previously demanded a jury trial.

The Sinovics seeks a judgment of more than $50,000.

Thomas R. Ysursa of Belleville represents the Sinovics.

An attorney for Vaughan Foods has not yet been identified.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-123

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