Appeals Court Affirms Blackwell Burke P.A.’s Jury Verdict

On Tuesday, March 6, the Missouri Court of Appeals (Western District) affirmed Blackwell Burke P.A.’s July 30, 2010 trial court victory on behalf of international food manufacturer ConAgra Foods Inc. in Khoury v. ConAgra Foods in a 19-page opinion.  The lower court judgment, upon jury verdict, awarded a complete defense victory to ConAgra in the first consumer “popcorn lung” case to reach a jury.   At trial, firm founding partner Jerry W. Blackwell was lead counsel and partner Corey L. Gordon was second chair.  Gordon argued the appeal.

In the Khoury appeal, the plaintiffs unsuccessfully argued that the trial court had erred in sustaining Blackwell and Gordon’s objections to certain of plaintiffs’ rebuttal evidence, thereby excluding the testimony.  The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of this evidence.

The plaintiffs further, and again unsuccessfully, argued that the trial court erred in dismissing a juror who intentionally failed to disclose antibusiness sentiments during jury selection.  Blackwell and Gordon successfully moved to strike the juror after discovering his online antibusiness postings.  The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of this juror.

This Missouri Court of Appeals decision comes on the heels of a Ninth Circuit decision affirming the district court’s award of summary judgment and dismissing all claims in favor of ConAgra in a similar federal consumer “popcorn lung” case, Newkirk v. ConAgra Foods, Inc. 727 F.Supp.2d 1006 (E.D. Wash. 2010), aff’d 438 Fed.Appx. 607 (9th Cir. 2011).

The attorneys of Blackwell Burke’s Food Safety Group represent major food manufacturers as well as food distributors, retailers, and restaurants. Areas of practice include litigation, arbitration, regulatory and administrative actions, third-party discovery issues, and other legal matters. They have successfully represented institutional clients in claims involving food borne illnesses (including E. coli and salmonella), ingredients, product recalls, adulteration and contamination, packaging, product warnings and instructions, processing procedures, kill steps, and other food safety issues. The firm also has experience working with issues involving Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) matters.   The firm continues to represent ConAgra in several pending cases as national coordinating counsel for consumer microwave popcorn litigation.

For more information about Blackwell Burke P.A. or this appeal, please contact Kandy Branch at 612-343-3235.