Houston man sues Blue Bell after Listeria infection nearly killed him

Blue Bell ice cream stands for sale on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, April 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former Houston resident has filed a federal lawsuit against Blue Bell, claiming he developed a “severe listeriosis infection” after eating several of the company’s ice cream products.

The suit claims the bacteria infected David Phillip Shockley’s blood and “migrated to his brain where it caused extensive damage, leaving him unconscious and near death.”

The document said Shockley suffers from ulcerative colitis and was taking medications that left him vulnerable to food contaminated with Listeria. In 2013, when Shockley was 31, the suit said he became very sick and woke up several days later in the hospital, “unable to walk, talk, swallow, or move much of his body.”

Doctors later diagnosed him with Listeria meningitis, according to the lawsuit. Shockley then moved back to his childhood home in Maryland so his parents could more easily care for him, where the lawsuit says he continues to receive a variety of rehabilitation services.

“The source of the Listeria monocytogenes that caused his infection was one or more of the Blue Bell products he consumed in the months leading up to his acute infection,” the lawsuit claims.

Shockley’s lawsuit asks for compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

Blue Bell pulled all of its products in late April because of Listeria concerns, and later halted production at each of their facilities. An investigation by the Food and Drug Administration revealed Blue Bell found 17 positive samples of Listeria on surfaces and floors in its Oklahoma plant dating back to 2013. The FDA said it “was not aware of these findings” before doing its own inspection this year in response to the outbreak.

Last week, the company announced they were laying off 1,450 employees and another 1,400 would be furloughed.

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