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Quaker Oats Salmonella Class Action Lawsuit

A new class action lawsuit has been filed in Illinois federal court against The Quaker Oats Co., alleging negligence in ensuring the safety and quality of its granola products. This negligence led to the recall of over 90 varieties of breakfast items and snacks, suspected of being contaminated with salmonella during production.

On December 15, the Chicago-based company announced the recall of certain granola and oat bars and cereals due to potential salmonella exposure during processing. Salmonella is known to cause serious illnesses. The recall includes Quaker Chewy Bars in various flavors, multiple Quaker Simply Granola Oats varieties, and several Quaker snack mixes, as stated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

January 12, 2024 Update

The Quaker Oats Company has extended its product recall to encompass more cereals, bars, and snacks, citing concerns of salmonella contamination.

Quaker Salmonella Class Action Lawsuit Filed

Class action lawyers jumped on this.  The lead plaintiff, a South Carolina woman who regularly purchases Quaker Oats products, argues that the company had a duty of care to thoroughly test its food products for harmful bacteria. The lawsuit claims that consumers bought these products believing they were manufactured to the highest safety and sanitation standards, and were fit for human consumption, particularly by those seeking health benefits.

The lawsuit alleges that Quaker Oats negligently failed to ensure the safety and quality of its granola products. This negligence is said to have led to the contamination of over 90 different formulations of breakfast items and snacks with salmonella during production.

It is further claimed that Quaker Oats misrepresented the qualities, characteristics, and ingredients of the recalled products. The products in question, including various flavors of Quaker Chewy Bars, multiple types of Quaker Simply Granola Oats, and several Quaker snack mixes, were believed to be tainted with salmonella.

The lawsuit contends that these products were presented as being of high safety and sanitation standards, fit for human consumption, and beneficial for health, which the plaintiff argues was not the case.


Summary of Allegations in Lawsuit

Plaintiffs lawsuit focuses on two key allegations:

  1. Reliance on Misrepresentation: The plaintiff and the class members claim that they relied on the defendant’s representations about their granola products, which were misleading. The recall notice brought to light the true qualities and ingredients of the products, which were inferior compared to what was advertised.This is particularly emphasized in the context of Quaker Oats’ marketing campaigns, which allegedly promoted the recalled products as healthy and high-quality options.
  2. Negligence in Product Testing: The lawsuit alleges that the defendant failed to properly design, manufacture, and implement a system to examine and test the granola products for bacteria prior to sale. This negligence led to the plaintiff and class members purchasing and consuming contaminated products.

Damages Sought

You have to remember this is a consumer class action.  So plaintiffs assert, as you see in these cases, that the recalled products were worth less than the price paid due to the potential health risks, and they would not have purchased the products had they known about the Salmonella contamination.

Our law firm is not involved in this litigation because we only handle injury and wrongful death claims. But that does not mean the damage plaintiffs are seeking will not ultimately be a ton of money.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, requiring the defendant to design and implement a new monitoring system to adequately monitor bacteria levels in their granola products. Declaratory relief is also sought to affirm the defendant’s violation of the stated causes of action.

There is also an unjust enrichment piece of this.  The lawsuit contends that the defendant unjustly benefited from the sales of the recalled products. The plaintiff and class members contend that they made these purchases with the expectation that the products would be of a certain quality and safe for consumption. The class action suit claims it would be unjust for the defendant to retain the benefits of these sales under the circumstances.

The complaint highlights that some consumers consume these oat and granola products daily, potentially increasing their exposure to salmonella. It accuses Quaker Oats of recklessly or knowingly selling these products without disclosing the contamination, describing the company’s omissions as material, false, misleading, and likely to deceive the public. This is exacerbated by Quaker Oats’ marketing campaign, which portrays these products as healthy and high-quality.

How a Class Action Lawsuit Like This Works

A consumer class action lawsuit is a legal process where a group of people collectively bring a claim to court against a defendant, usually a company, for damages caused by common actions or products. This type of lawsuit is particularly useful when individual damages are too small to justify separate lawsuits, but collectively, they are significant.  This is exactly the case with the Quaker Oats class action lawsuit.

Here is how it plays out:

  1. Formation of the Class: The lawsuit against Quaker Oats began when lead plaintiff Teresa Herendeen, representing a group of consumers, filed a claim.  Herendeen aims to represent a national class of all U.S. consumers who purchased the recalled products within the statute of limitations, and a subclass of South Carolina consumers. The claims include negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraud by omission, and unjust enrichment.
  2. Class Certification: For the lawsuit to proceed as a class action, the court must certify the class. In the Quaker Oats class lawsuit, this would involve showing that a large number of consumers were affected (numerosity), that their claims of harm from the contaminated products were similar (commonality), and that Herendeen’s experience is typical of the class (typicality). Additionally, the court must be convinced that Herendeen can adequately protect the interests of the entire class (adequacy).
  3. Notification to Class Members: After the class is certified, other potential class members will be notified. They will have the choice to stay in the class, which may bind them to the final judgment, or opt-out to pursue individual lawsuits.
  4. Discovery Phase: Both sides in the class action will engage in pretrial discovery.  This is the battleground that makes or breaks a consumer class action. The parties produce and gather evidence to support their respective claims and defenses. This might involve sharing of company records, consumer testimonies, and expert opinions on the health impacts of salmonella in this case.
  5. Settlement or Trial: Like many class action lawsuits, the Quaker Oats case might be settled out of court. If a settlement is reached, Quaker Oats would agree to compensate the affected consumers, and the court would oversee the distribution of this settlement. If the case goes to trial and the class wins, a similar process would follow; if Quaker Oats wins, the class members would typically receive no compensation.  Does any plaintiff come out with a fortune in these cases?  No.  Truth be told, the only big winners are the lawyers. That is not to say it is not a viable claim that should be brought.  But there is no denying that is how it plays.
  6. Distribution of Settlement or Award: In the event of a settlement or court victory for the plaintiffs in the Quaker Oats case, the court would approve a plan to distribute the funds to class members, which could involve direct payments or other forms of compensation.
  7. Attorneys’ Fees: The attorneys in the Quaker Oats lawsuit likely work on a contingency basis and would be paid from the settlement or award fund, subject to court approval.

Hiring a Lawyer

Again, our law firm focuses on personal injury and wrongful death claims.  So we would not be able to help you with this one.