Big Olaf CreameryOlaf Creamery has been ordered to pay $4 million to the estate of Mary Billman, a 79-year-old Illinois woman whose death has been linked to a listeria outbreak traced to the Florida-based ice cream maker.
Judge William Jung ruled that $1 million Big Olaf will have to pay punitive damages.
Billman was described as the matriarch of a large family, in the wrongful death suit brought by her estate, in addition to serving as the primary caretaker of her husband, who suffers from dementia, Billman had three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The suit said that her pain and suffering, and ultimate loss to her family and friends, cannot be understated.
Billman died last year, which was part of a multistate listeria outbreak that affected at least 28 people. The outbreak was linked to Big Olaf'sOlaf's production facilities in Sarasota, Florida.
The outbreak resulted in a pregnancy loss.
After a state investigation, Florida authorities shut down the facility and ordered a recall. A Dec. 9, 2022 warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found Big Olaf in serious violation of U.S. health codes.
The presence of Listeria-linked bacteria in your facility and your products shows that your sanitation efforts are inadequate to effectively control pathogens in your facility to prevent contamination of food, the FDA said.
Judge Jung's decision came after a Jan. 20 evidentiary hearing. A representative for Big Olaf could not be reached for comment.