This week, a federal judge ruled that the four primary defendants in the Peanut Corporation of America case will not be required to pay restitution to their victims who were affected by a deadly Salmonella outbreak.
One problem is that the case--which has stretched out for 3 years--would be extended even further if restitution were to be paid out. The judge also believes that the process of figuring out exactly how much each victim--and the businesses that suffered--should be compensated would be far too complicated. The decision was further convoluted by the fact that some victims had already split a liability insurance payout, and some businesses that suffered due to the outbreak were compensated by their own insurance policies.
The judge’s order, issued earlier this week reads in part, “The Court is not herein ‘punting’ the issue of restitution to another venue or into oblivion because it is too daunted by the complexity of determining the losses caused by each defendant to each identifiable victim. Nor is the court simply allowing the government to forfeit restitution on behalf of the victims. Rather, the court will not prolong these proceedings, at the expense of the American people and the defendants, to re-visit PCA bankruptcy proceedings or conduct mini-trials as to eligibility of the as-yet unidentified victims and the total losses of the identified victims.”
In short, the defendants--Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Samuel Lightsey and Daniel Kilgore--will not pay anything to any victims. They will, however, continue to serve out their sentences in federal prison for crimes ranging from conspiracy to fraud. With no restitution prerequisite looming, the Parnell brothers can now proceed with appealing their convictions and sentences.
The only female defendant in the case--Mary Wilkerson--previously escaped the obligation of a restitution pay out with an ordered exemption. She is serving 5 years in a Florida federal women’s prison.
PCA's Former Quality Manager Surrenders to Federal Prison
PCA Plant Managers Sentenced in Salmonella Outbreak Trial
28 Years in Prison for Georgia Peanut Executive
Unprecedented Life Sentence Recommended for Peanut Executive