Kraft Heinz Sues Industrial Cleaner Following Recall

Plaintiff Kraft Heinz Foods Company filed suit on Saturday in the Northern District of Illinois against defendant Groome Industrial Service Group LLC. The complaint for damages follows a Kraft Heinz recall that they contend they were forced to make due to misconduct by the defendant in their facilities.

Kraft Heinz “is the third-largest food and beverage company in the United States, with dozens of brands known and trusted by generations of consumers.” Groome is an industrial maintenance company.

The complaint explained that in its facilities across the country, the plaintiff stores fructose in large storage silos that feed into lines that produce well-known dry powder beverages like Kool-Aid. In order to maintain cleanliness, the plaintiff hires professional help like Groome to come and perform specialized cleaning to the silos.

In mid 2021, the plaintiff hired the defendant for cleaning of the silos in a facility in Delaware. Terms and conditions were agreed upon prior to the cleaning, including that the defendant would clean the silos in a safe and reasonable manner that would not subject the product to any damage.

The complaint asserts that the defendant “represented to Kraft Heinz that it was qualified to clean the silos and would take all the necessary precautions to guard against leaving any equipment in the silos or otherwise taking any action that would negatively impact Kraft Heinz’s food production process.”

After the cleaning, the defendant left a portable work light in the silo that they had used to illuminate the space during their work. The light was in a part of the silo that was slightly hidden, meaning that it was not found until two months later when the plaintiff had to empty the silo following the discovery of foreign material in its production line. The plaintiff was then forced to recall three separate products and sustained millions of dollars in damages as a result of the contamination.

The complaint cites breach of contract, indemnification, and negligence. Kraft Heinz is seeking favorable judgment on all counts and damages in excess of $75,000, as well as litigation fees and pre-judgment interest.

The plaintiff is represented by Swanson Martin & Bell LLP.