The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has upheld Tiger Brands' bid to compel third parties to provide critical epidemiological information related to the listeriosis class action lawsuit. Tiger Brands issued subpoenas in May 2019 requesting information from various third parties, though some refused, notes BusinessLIVE.
According to a News24 report, some laboratories had refused to provide information they believed was confidential, relating to the identities of those who submitted samples for testing.
The court handed down judgment in Tiger Brands’ favour on 23 June, compelling the third parties to provide the information within a month. “The effect of the ruling is to provide access to information relevant to the proceedings and enable the parties on both sides of the class action to move matters forward,” Tiger Brands said.
The listeriosis outbreak in 2018 – which caused 209 deaths, including 91 babies, and infected more than 1,000 people – was traced to Tiger Brands’ Enterprise facility in Polokwane, Limpopo.
The law firm at the helm of the class action suit against Tiger Brands, Richard Spoor Inc (RSI), has, however, slammed the company’s application to compel the release of epidemiological information as evidence as a bid at “buying time” and delaying the class action. News24 notes that last year, the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) determined that Richard Spoor Attorneys could go ahead with a class action application representing over a thousand people affected by the listeriosis outbreak in 2017 and 2018 that claimed over 200 lives.
The Health Department linked it to a meat processing facility of Enterprise Foods, a subsidiary of Tiger Brands.
“The effect of the ruling is to provide access to information relevant to the proceedings and enable the parties on both sides of the class action to move matters forward. The third parties may apply for leave to appeal against the order,” Tiger Brands said in a shareholder notice.
Spokesperson for RSI, Catherine Marcus, said it was the view of the firm, throughout these proceedings, that Tiger Brands was engaging in a “fishing expedition”, and that the application was an exercise in trying to create a delay to the overall case. “We do not believe that anything will come of the subpoenaed documents that will change our position that Tiger Brands is liable for the harm caused by the 2016-2018 listeriosis outbreak.”
Full BusinessLIVE report
Full News24 report