The Colorado farm that grew cantaloupes linked to a listeria outbreak that killed more than 30 people last year has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, court documents showed.
Jensen Farms of Holly, Colorado, listed $2.1 million in assets and more than $2.5 million in liabilities in documents filed on Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver.
In its bankruptcy papers, the farm listed numerous wrongful death lawsuits it faces in the wake of the outbreak.
The bacterial illness spread through 28 states last summer in the deadliest food-borne occurrence in 25 years, a congressional committee said in January. The committee's report said 146 people were affected by the bacterial infection. One woman suffered a miscarriage.
Investigators with the Food and Drug Administration said Jensen Farms failed to store cantaloupes properly after they were harvested and stopped chlorinating the water it used to wash the melons, which allowed the listeria bacteria to flourish.
Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who has sued Jensen Farms on behalf of several victims, wrote in a posting on his firm's website that the bankruptcy will allow insurance funds to be freed up more quickly.
"For me, the bottom line is this is step one of a process making sure all these people receive fair compensation," Marler wrote.
The farm's distributor and retail grocers such as Kroger and Wal-Mart that sold the tainted produce also have been sued.
Listeria monocytogenes contamination is normally associated with processed cheese and meats and not with produce. Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk from the gastrointestinal sickness.