On February 14, 2007, the Food & Drug Administration issued a recall for certain brands of peanut butter manufactured by ConAgra. On March 1, 2007, the FDA announced it had identified the salmonella at the manufacturing plant. Enter the lawyers.
On Wednesday, a Louisville, Kentucky man who claimed he got sick after eating the peanut butter, filed suit against ConAgra. (The story featured a disclaimer I don’t believe I’ve seen elsewhere in news coverage of litigation: “Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case.”) I certainly didn’t think that this was the first suit filed against ConAgra, but I naively thought it was one of the first. Ha! (In my defense, I wasn’t blogging at Overlawyered at the time, and I hadn’t eaten the peanut butter, so I didn’t have any particular personal or professional reason to notice the announcements of the lawsuits.)
The first suits — at least three of them — appear to have been filed on February 16, 2007, just two days after the FDA’s announcement. Each of those three involved individual plaintiffs; in case you were wondering, the first (of many) class action lawsuits seems to have waited until February 20, 2007. The huge four-day gap between the filing of the individual suits and the class-action suits is explained by the three-day Presidents Day holiday; Feb. 20 was actually the next business day.
Is there some sort of trial lawyer contest like the old Name That Tune game show? “I can file that suit in 72 hours.” “I can file that suit in 48 hours.” “Okay, file that suit!” There’s certainly no legal reason the suits need to be filed that fast; there was no approaching statute of limitations, for instance.