A federal court in Georgia has delayed until July 28, 2014, the criminal proceedings against Stewart Parnell, former owner of the Peanut Corp. of America, which was implicated in a 2008-2009 nationwide Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds and led to at least nine deaths. United States v. Parnell, No. 13-cr-12 (U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Ga., Albany Div., order entered July 11, 2014). The defendants, including former vice president of sales Michael Parnell and former quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson, had argued that they did not have time to review some 100,000 documents produced by the prosecution just days before the original July 14 trial date. The court refused to dismiss the 76-count felony indictment as an alternative remedy.
Meanwhile, the court is also considering whether a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official should be allowed to testify during the trial, indicating that it would conduct a Daubert hearing to determine whether the testimony of CDC Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch Chief Ian Williams is sufficiently reliable to be admitted. Parnell has reportedly requested that Daubert hearings be conducted as to all eight of the government’s experts, but the court will allow just one, stating, “There are several problems with Parnell’s request. First, ‘[a] district court should conduct a Daubert inquiry when the opposing party’s motion for a hearing is supported by ‘conflicting medical literature and expert testimony.’ Parnell ignores this requirement and excuses the absence of detail in his motion by explaining that the government provided insufficient expert disclosures. But if the government violated its discovery obligations, the remedy is a discovery sanction, not a Daubert hearing.” See Law360, July 14 and 17, 2014; Manufacturing Business Technology, July 15, 2014.