For the latest information related to the Jensens, please see “Jensens give listeria victims control of case against Primus Labs” on The Packer’s website.
In a rare move, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Denver arranged a meeting for victims and their families with Eric and Ryan Jensen, the Colorado brothers whose cantaloupe was linked to a 2011 listeria outbreak that killed at least 33 people.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena and the Jensens should be commended for their efforts. Although nothing can reverse the events that have transpired, the meeting no doubt provided some measure of closure for the members of the five families who attended.
According to statements from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Nov. 19 meeting marked only the third time the Denver office has arranged such a meeting. The Jensen brothers waived their Fifth Amendment rights for the meeting.
Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who is representing 46 victims and their families in civil suits filed in several states, said Nov. 21 that about a dozen family members attended the meeting. He said the Jensen brothers apologized several times. They also showed photos of their farm and packing facility and explained the harvesting and packing procedures they used.
The family members asked the Jensens a few questions, Marler said. Several also made statements about their loved ones who had died, including one widow who spoke about her 67-year marriage and how much she misses her husband.
Another woman told the Jensen brothers she is a Christian and she knows she should forgive them, but she is having a hard time doing so.
The Jensen brothers each pleaded guilty to six federal misdemeanor criminal charges and are free on bonds, awaiting a Jan. 28 sentencing hearing in Denver. They each could be sentenced to serve six years in prison and fined $1.5 million. However, the judge can impose a lesser sentence or order them to serve probation.
For additional details on the meeting, see this story by "Food Product Design" staff writer Josh Long: “Jensen brothers meet with victims in listeria outbreak”