Foster Farms is suing Orkin LLC and subsidiary Orkin Services of California, alleging the pest-control company was to blame for cockroaches found in its fresh chicken processing plant in Livingston, California. The discovery of cockroaches resulted in temporary shutdowns of the plant in January.
The lawsuit was filed in Merced County Superior Court, and states Orkin should pay for damages for failing to fulfill its contract to control cockroaches at the Livingston plant, the Fresno Bee reported. According to the lawsuit, Orkin entered a contract with Foster Farms in May 2013, and Foster Farms asserts the exterminators did substandard work. Foster Farms also alleges Orkin did not cooperate with the USDA in dealing with the presence of cockroaches.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) suspended operations at the facility on January 8, but allowed the company to resume production on January 11. A day later, Foster Farms voluntarily shut down operations at the Livingston plant to dedicate additional time to ensuring its preventative plan was fully realized with the most effective treatment protocols in place. The workload from the Livingston plant was temporarily moved to other Foster Farms facilities before the plant reopened again and all employees returned to work on January 22.
After the first shutdown of the Livingston Plant, Foster Farms alleged it had to hire another business to tent and fog the facility, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and resulted in the second shutdown.
Foster Farms, already suffering an image problem from a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to its chicken products, indicated the cockroach situation also hurt business because it caused a decrease in consumer confidence.
Orkin has filed a motion seeking to move the case to the federal court in Fresno.