Business insurance

Hartford got a $6.1 million judgment in a hepatitis case

A federal district court in Virginia awarded a unit of Hartford Financial Services Inc. a $6.1 million judgment in damages, prejudgment interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with frozen strawberries that led to a hepatitis epidemic in 2016.

The frozen strawberries, which were used in smoothies served at Atlanta’s Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchises, were believed to have been imported from Egypt by VLM Foods, based in Quebec, Canada, according to the U.S. District Court in Alexandria’s ruling, in Virginia, Sentinel Insurance Co.Ltd. vs. VLM Foods, et al.

FLM had sold the strawberries to a frozen food wholesaler, Patagonia Foods, based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., which then relied on two companies to deliver the frozen strawberries to TSC franchises, according to the ruling.

In 2016, more than 200 claims were filed against TSC and various TSC franchises seeking damages for personal injuries suffered as a result of eating contaminated strawberries.

After Patagonia and VLM refused to provide defense and indemnification, TSC’s insurer, Harford unites Sentinel, ultimately incurred $3.5 million in attorneys’ fees and litigation costs to defend TX against the claims. and in the regulations.

In November 2019, Sentinel filed suit in district court to recover that amount, plus interest from Patagonia and VLM under various harmless agreements.

In two notices, in October 2021 and May 2022, the district court ruled that VLM and Patagonia were jointly and severally liable to Sentinel for the $3.5 million it incurred to defend TSC against cutter claims, plus prejudgment interest on the amount and attorney’s fees. and costs incurred by Sentinel in pursuing the litigation.

Still the issues of the fees and costs that Sentinel and Patagonia incurred in connection with the action and the calculation of prejudgment interest were not addressed in those decisions.

In its order issued Thursday, the court found that in addition to the $3.5 million in damages it awarded in October 2021, Sentinel should be awarded $1.1 million in prejudgment interest. effective November 1, 2019, $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees and $292,477.89 in costs and expenses incurred in connection with the litigation.

Patagonia also received $246,888.95 against VLM for Patagonia’s attorney fees, with postjudgment interest.

Lawyers handling the case did not respond to requests for comment.