PARKERSBURG – A Williamstown man and his wife have filed suit against the manufacturers of a peanut paste that they say caused the man to contract salmonella poisoning, which allegedly led to depression and ongoing medical problems.

Gary D. and Patsy Rhodes claim Gary D. Rhodes suffered from salmonella typhimurium food poisoning on Nov. 18, 2008, after ingesting Austin-Cheese crackers with peanut butter.

Because of the food poisoning, Gary Rhodes had to go to Camden Clark Memorial Hospital's emergency room with gastrointestinal symptoms of diarrhea, according to the complaint filed Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court.

Since then, because of the poisoning, Gary Rhodes has had to return to the hospital multiple times, resulting in hospital stays of at least 127 days over a period of time, the suit states.

"As a direct and proximate result of consuming peanut paste contained in Austin-Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter, and thereafter being exposed to Salmonella Typhimurium, Gary Rhodes is still experiencing the following problems as a result of his Salmonella infection including: (1) uncontrolled diarrhea, (2) severe deconditioning, (3) chronic C. difficile, (4) chronic fatigue, (5) malnutrition, (6) thyroid function damage, (7) liver function damage, (8) depression, (9) impotency, (10) fear of antibiotic use, (11) embarrassment, (12) permanent scarring, and (13) need for hemorrhoid surgery," the suit states.

Due to her husband's illness, Patsy Rhodes has lost his consortium, been deprived of his care and services and lost wages because she has been forced to quit work to care for him, the complaint says.

Salmonella, a potentially lethal type of food poisoning, was found in peanut paste manufactured by defendant P.P. Sales. Kellogg Company, which manufactures Austin-Cheese crackers with peanut butter, used the peanut paste from P.P. Sales in its product, according to the complaint.

After discovering the threat of salmonella in its foods, Kellogg announced a recall of various products, including the crackers, the suit states.

The Rhodes name P.P. Sales as a defendant because they say the company failed to ensure its products were not contaminated with salmonella and failed to timely warn it customers of potential contamination.

Knowing of the potential for salmonella to be in its food, as proven by at least 12 positive tests for the bacteria since 2007, P.P. Sales should have alerted customers to the danger, the complaint says.

In their complaint, the Rhodes allege breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, strict products liability, failure to warn, breach of expressed warranty, negligence, tort of outrage and violation of the Magnuson-Moss Act.

They seek compensatory and punitive damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Arden J. Curry II, David K. Schwirian and Susan Curry Brasselle of Pauley Curry in Charleston will be representing them.

U.S. District Court case number: 6:10-cv-1292

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