ConAgra seeks to transfer peanut butter lawsuit to Pike County

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 6, 2013


Circuit Judge William Mudge scheduled a motion hearing regarding defendant ConAgra’s motion to compel and motion to transfer venue in a lawsuit claiming Peter Pan peanut butter contained salmonella.

Mudge set the hearing for Dec. 20 at 9 a.m. The plaintiffs were also given until Dec. 1 to reply.

ConAgra’s motion to compel was filed on Oct. 21 requesting the court to compel the plaintiffs to answer ConAgra’s interrogatories and requests for production.

ConAgra claims it filed the interrogatories and production request on Aug. 19 and the plaintiffs were required to respond by Sept. 16, but to date have not.

ConAgra filed its forum non conveniens  transfer motion on Sept. 25 claiming Madison County is the wrong venue as it is both improper and inconvenient.

“The [forum non conveniences] doctrine assumes there is more than one forum for a case and permits a court, although it may have proper jurisdiction to decline that jurisdiction ‘if it appears that another forum can better serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice,’” the motion states.

ConAgra argues that Madison County is already congested with cases and it is unfair to impose jury duty upon residents with no connection to the litigation. It also claims there is no connection to Madison County as the parties are not located in Madison County and the incident didn’t occur in Madison County.

“As both private and public factors weigh against venue remaining in Madison County, this court should transfer this case to the venue of the location of the injuries and claims, Pike County,” the motion states.

According to the complaint filed in May, Lonnie and Penny Hill claim their daughter, Cara, became ill after eating the peanut butter they purchased from Country Market in November 2006.

The Hills claim the peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella, causing their daughter’s illness and a permanent condition called ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis affecting the spine.

ConAgra is named a defendant for manufacturing the peanut butter. Niemann Foods Inc. is also named a defendant for selling the contaminated product.

The Hills seek a judgment of more than $50,000.

Michael P. Glisson of Williamson, Webster, Falb & Glisson in Alton represents the plaintiffs.

Theodore J. MacDonald Jr., Michael L. Young and Katherine E. Jacobi of HeplerBroom LLC in St. Louis and R. Trent Taylor of McGuireWoods LLP in Richmond, VA, represent the ConAgra.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-772

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