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Ron Simon: the Texas Peanut Butter Lawyer

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Houston, TXTexas attorney Ron Simon finds himself, yet again, knee deep in a barrel full of peanut butter salmonella litigation cases. Although the current outbreak involving the Peanut Butter Corporation of America is grabbing the headlines now, there have been problems in the past with salmonella tainted peanut butter products. Over the last several years, Simon's firm, Simon & Luke in Houston, has handled hundreds of peanut butter related cases.

Ron Simon"We have clients from all over the United States," says Simon. "There really aren't too many other firms in Texas that have the expertise pursuing food-born illness cases, so a lot of other firms end up referring cases to us."

Simon has been involved in representing many people who were exposed to salmonella tainted Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter during another outbreak going back to 2006 in which dozens of people were sickened.

Most of the cases related to the Peanut Butter Corporation of America that Simon is currently handling involve children. Some ate peanut butter products, like Kellogg's Austin Peanut Butter Crackers. Others were exposed to the salmonella tainted peanut butter in ice cream or candy bars. "We have about 20 families right now with children who were affected," he says. "Most of these children have had to be hospitalized. Often in these cases, the kids have elevated fevers of 103 or 104 degrees; they get very dehydrated and have to be put on an IV. It is really terrifying for the kids and their parents."

Background on Peanut Corporation of America
At least nine people have died as a result of eating peanut butter and products containing peanut butter paste traced back to the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Blakely, Georgia. As many as 600 others have also been affected. One in about five has had to be hospitalized in what has been described as one of the worst salmonella outbreaks in years.

The plant in Georgia has been shut down and a criminal investigation is underway after e-mails showed that the CEO of the company continued to ship peanut butter products to hospitals, schools and other institutional customers even after salmonella had been detected at the plant and in the peanut butter.

The Salmonella Evidence Trail
"Most of the people who were affected by salmonella in the Peter Pan outbreak still had the product—they still had the half empty peanut butter jars at home," says Simon.

The case against the Peanut Butter Corporation of America will follow a slightly different trail of evidence. "We will be relying on DNA profiles of the salmonella bacteria to connect their clients' illness to the plant in Georgia, "adds Simon. "We have epidemiologists and former federal and state employees who can help us connect the dots here."

The firm Simon & Luke has earned millions of dollars in compensation for clients and proudly claims it "will not be outspent, outworked or outgunned" in any case.

Ron Simon is a managing partner with Simon & Luke in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (1993) and earned a B.S.C.E from the University of Texas at Austin (1990).

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