The brothers sentenced for introducing listeria-tainted cantaloupes into the market will pay less in restitution than originally expected.
Eric and Ryan Jensen pleaded guilty last October to introducing an adulterated food into interstate commerce and aiding and abetting. In their sentencing, they were ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution.
However, only three victims filed declarations of losses. The victims asked for $13,184 in losses.
UPDATE: The Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark is representing victims in the lawsuit against the Jensen brothers. A lawyer said by phone Tuesday that no victims would receive money from the brothers despite filing declarations of losses because Jensen Farms filed for bankruptcy. The lawyer said the three victims that asked for $13,000 would not receive that money.
There is still an opportunity for victims to receive compensation for their losses. The Jensen brothers are suing the auditing company that did not point out red flags in their farming practices. The lawyer said the brothers authorized money from that lawsuit be allocated to victims. The money available from that lawsuit will be much greater than that available to victims in the lawsuit against the Jensen brothers.
Penny Hauser said Monday no amount of money will ever heal her heartbreak after losing her husband. Michael Hauser died in February 2012 after eating the contaminated cantaloupe in August 2011. She planned to file a declaration of losses only for her husband's medical bills that totaled $1.5 million.
"There is the loss of him, the loss of his income, the loss of his companionship, how do you account for any of that?" said Penny Hauser.
She missed the deadline for filing the paperwork. She said it's her fault, but also said it was unclear when it was due.
"We got these forms from the court that I had to fill out but I couldn't find a cover letter, I couldn't find a date of when it was done. I probably dragged my heels a little too long," said Penny Hauser.
The listeria-tainted cantaloupe sent 150 people to the hospital. Penny Hauser's husband was one of 33 people who died in the outbreak.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, known victims who suffered financial loss because of the outbreak were contacted to submit declarations of losses. Three victims did. Their requests were to pay for things like doctor fees, attorney fees and funeral services.
One declaration of losses was for $7,624, one for $4,644 and one for $916.
Court documents state the U.S. Attorney's Office is aware that many victims specifically chose not to participate in the restitution order.
Still, Penny Hauser said she is surprised more victims didn't file.
"Did they not get the cover letter? Did they think they had more time?," said Penny Hauser. "Maybe they didn't realize it."
Penny Hauser cared for her husband until the very end. He returned home after months in the hospital. Penny Hauser and her daughter received training to care for Michael Hauser so he did not have to go to a nursing home. She was by his side when complications from listeria finally became too much.
"When you take your vows, that's what I believed in. For better for worse, sickness and in health, that was my job," said Penny Hauser.
The Jensen brothers' lawyers declined to comment.