A federal court in Missouri has denied the motion to dismiss filed by a food-safety company responsible for auditing conditions at the Jensen Farms cantaloupe facility some six weeks before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected the farm and found the Listeria strains associated with a nationwide outbreak that allegedly sickened the plaintiff. West v. Frontera Produce Ltd., No. 13-0943 (U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Mo., W. Div., decided November 7, 2014).
Primus Group, Inc. had argued that it owed no duty to the plaintiff, but the court disagreed, citing Missouri case law, which is consistent with the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 324A, allowing liability for third persons who render services that should be recognized “as necessary for the protection of a third person or his things.” According to the court, the plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action against the defendant, “given that Primus assumed a duty pursuant to contract and the performance of that duty was designed in part to protect the public from contaminated food products.” So ruling, the court agreed with a similar ruling rendered in the district in July 2014.