New Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of San Diego Woman Who Died After Eating Tainted Cucumber

San Diego-based produce company has recalled garden cucumbers believed to be the source of a salmonella outbreak

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a San Diego woman who died after eating Salmonella-tainted cucumbers produced by a San Diego-based produce company. Two people have died as a result of the outbreak and more than 340 people from 30 states have been sickened. 

Mildred Hendricks, 99, died in the Salmonella outbreak after eating the tainted cucumbers and contracting the disease, San Diego County Health officials say. A second person in Texas died after eating the tainted cucumbers. 

The cucumbers named in the lawsuit were imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The lawsuit names the California produce company as a defendant.

Ron Simon & Associates and San Diego-based Gomez Trial Attorneys filed the first wrongful death suit Monday in Southern District Court of California in San Diego on behalf of Hedricks and Hendricks' niece, Pamela Hendricks Drawbaugh. 

The lawsuit alleges that Hendricks, who lived alone in San Diego at the time of her death, ate some of the now-recalled cucumbers unknowingly and shortly after began suffering from food poisoning. 

On Aug. 14, she was admitted to the hospital and treated for symptoms consistent with Salmonella poisoning, according to the lawsuit. 

Though she was treated at the hospital, on Aug. 17, Hendricks died. Testing done at the hospital revealed Hendricks had been suffering from a strain of Salmonella linked to the tainted cucumbers. 

On Sept. 8, a Minnesota woman was the first to file a lawsuit against the produce company after allegedly eating a salad with the tainted cucumbers and contracting the illness, leaving her sick in the hospital for days. 

As of Sept. 8, 341 people have been hospitalized with salmonella serotype Poona across 30 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Of those reports, at least 72 people from California were reporting symptoms of salmonella exposure. 54 percent of those ill are children younger than 18 years old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are investigating the outbreak.

"We issued a voluntary recall, working with federal and state authorities, we contacted all of our customers all harvest and packing operations at this facility have been stopped," David Murray, a partner with the produce company, told NBC7. "We are taking every precaution to remove this product from the market and if consumers are concerned, they should dispose of the product or bring the product back to the store where it was purchased."

Grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico, the cucumbers were distributed between August 1 and September 3.

"We've had a long time exclusive relationship with a Rancho Don Juanito in Baja California they are also a family business and are just as committed to food safety as we are," Murray previously told NBC7. "In fact, they a leader in making positive improvements in farming and food activities in Mexico."

State officials could not identify the stores where the cucumbers were sold in San Diego. Anderson & Williamson Fresh Produce would not release the names of the retail stores that sold the cucumbers.

The cucumbers arrived in boxes marked as "Limited Edition" brand pole-grown cucumbers but state officials say it's unlikely the cucumbers would have any identifying brand information on the shelf.

State officials advise consumers to talk with their local grocer to ask if the cucumbers in their refrigerator may be those involved in the recall.

At least 17 California counties have had reports of illnesses.

The cucumbers were shipped to 22 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Central, or to consult the FDA's website.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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