The attorneys acting on behalf of the different applicants in two separate listeriosis class action lawsuits against Tiger Brands over the listeriosis outbreak have agreed to combine the lawsuits into a single certification application.
Tiger Brands on Tuesday said its legal representatives had, on Monday, met with the attorneys for claimants, Richard Spoor and LHL Attorneys, and the Deputy Judge President of the Gauteng local division of the High Court, Johannesburg to discuss the matter.
The attorneys will now jointly represent all the applicants and, as a result, the application by LHL Attorneys will be discontinued.
At the meeting, the parties advised the Deputy Judge President that they have agreed on the broad terms of a draft certification order. The next step in the certification proceedings is for the allocation of a judge, who will convene a hearing to consider the proposed order.
The draft order agreed between the parties allows the certification action to proceed.
In terms of the proposed order, it is envisaged that four distinct groups of persons will constitute classes for the purposes of the class action.
These four classes encompass all claimants who could potentially have a claim against the company, following a listeriosis outbreak in March at Tiger Brands’ subsidiary Enterprise Foods’ manufacturing facility in Polokwane, which could potentially have resulted in the 200 recorded listeriosis-caused deaths since the outbreak.
Subject to the approval and granting of the certification order, the class action will then proceed in two stages. The first stage is to determine whether or not the company is liable.
If at the end of the first stage, it is determined that the company is liable in
respect of all or any of the four classes, then all claimants who had not opted out of the class action will be bound by that ruling.
Following on from this, and assuming the company is held liable, the class action will then proceed to the second stage, namely to determine the extent of the damages due to each class in general, and to each claimant in particular.
Claimants will be required to expressly opt in to the second stage of the class action by giving formal notice to the claimants’ attorneys, and only those claimants who opt in will have the benefit of and be bound by the outcome of the second stage.
Tiger Brands continues to work closely with its insurers to ensure that the entire process is managed as efficiently as possible.
Up until June, the company has recalled and destroyed 4 000 t of value-added meat products, costing the company R415-million. Tiger Brands has also closed three plants and spent R50-million in remediating its facilities.
These facilities are anticipated to reopen in September.