Victims lose: the legal wrangling of the Rhode Island salmonella-in-Zeppole mess

WPRI continues its in-depth coverage on the one-year anniversary of the salmonella-in-Zeppole outbreak that killed up to 3 and sickened 83.

A lawsuit filed by the family of a Cranston man who died one year ago this week after eating zeppole pastry days before the salmonella outbreak, named three Rhode Island companies in a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit , plaintiff Frank R. Castelli bought “bakery products from Defusco’s Bakery, Inc. and/or Tony’s Colonial Food, Inc to be consumed by his father, Plaintiff, Frank Castelli.”

The 84-year-old Cranston resident developed flu like symptoms around the time of last Saint Joseph’s day and died on March 23, 2011. Frank R. Castelli said his father was healthy in the days leading up to eating the pastry.

Buono’s Italian Bakery is the third company named in the lawsuit. John Doe Corporation is also listed as a defendant as a "fictitious" place holder for a company that could be named at a later date.

The defendants are accused of 3 counts each; Strict liability, breach of warranty and negligence.

The lawsuit alleges Castelli’s “illness and death were a result of the bakery products he ingested which were contaminated with salmonella.”

Arnold Buono, the owner of Buono’s, is unsure why his bakery is name in the lawsuit.

“All toxicology reports from my bakery came back negative for salmonella,” Buono said.

Buono told target 12 he sold zeppoles to Tony’s Colonial Food last year.

“We made about 7,500 zeppoles and we didn’t hear about anyone getting sick," Buono said.

None of the other defendants would comment on the lawsuit. Castelli’s attorney advised his family not to comment about the pending litigation. The lawsuit does not name a dollar amount.

One of the other deaths involved a man in his 90’s according to the Department of Health. No details on the third death have been released.

Investigators blamed the storage of pastry shells on cartons that had contained raw eggs and improperly chilled custard as potential causes for the outbreak.