Motley Rice files lawsuit claiming lead in applesauce poisoned two children

On January 25, 2024, Motley Rice attorneys filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers and retailers of WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches, on behalf of parents alleging the fruit pouches caused lead-poising resulting in life long injuries and the need for continued medical treatment for their two toddler children. The family was among the first to report elevated blood lead levels, which helped lead to nationwide investigations and recalls. The case was filed in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County, where WanaBana LLC and WanaBana USA LLC are legal corporate residents. However, the pouches were commonly sold across the nation at Dollar Tree Stores, which the plaintiffs have also sued.

North Carolina parents, Nicole Peterson and Thomas Duong, provided their two children, both under 4 years of age, what they thought was a high quality and healthy snack. Instead, their children suffered from the known harmful effects of lead poisoning resulting in injuries that will require a lifetime of ongoing medical monitoring for potential developmental and health issues according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs allege WanaBana and Dollar Tree defendants knew or should have known these products presented a substantial and unreasonable risk of harm to the public, including children who were the likely end consumers. WanaBana, through its manufacture, promotion and distribution, and Dollar Tree, through its advertisement and sales, unreasonably subjected consumers to an extreme risk of serious, life-long injury from the contaminated pouches, the complaint alleges. Additionally, a recent report from the FDA found that WanaBana did not test for heavy metals in the pouches.

“This lawsuit underscores the critical importance of corporate responsibility in ensuring product safety, especially when the product’s end consumers are vulnerable children. Our clients’ children now face lifelong health challenges and medical needs. We are determined to hold WanaBana, Dollar Tree Inc., and any other companies within the supply chain of this toxic product, accountable for any part they played in this devastating lead poisoning situation, a situation we argue was avoidable,” stated Motley Rice attorney Nicholas Williams.

In February 2023, the plaintiffs began buying WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches for their two young children from their local Dollar Tree store. The health-conscious parents relied on package and label messaging which stated the products were “USDA Organic,” and “additive-free.” At the children’s annual exams, routine blood level tests discovered elevated blood lead levels in the children. Follow-up testing several weeks later revealed that their elevated blood levels had nearly doubled. The two toddlers continued to consume the products until August of 2023, when plaintiffs identified the WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches as a potential cause of the elevated blood levels.

After ruling out other sources, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services became involved, analyzing numerous lots of WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree as part of their investigation and discovering extremely high concentrations of lead. The FDA then analyzed and backed up NCDHHS’ investigative findings, concluding “levels of lead found in the analyzed pouches could result in acute lead toxicity.” The CDC has since reported that the lead contamination in the WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree has impacted over 300 individuals.

”This is a nightmare no parent should ever face. Knowing that our children will have to live with the effects of lead poisoning for the rest of their lives is heart-wrenching. This serves as a wake-up call about the dangers that can lurk in everyday food products,” said the plaintiffs, Nicole Peterson and Thomas Duong.

About Motley Rice

Motley Rice LLC has a long history of legal experience in justice seeking for children adversely affected by toxic lead exposure. Our attorneys have many years of litigation in toxic lead poisoning cases including a $305 million settlement reached for 10 California cities and counties that resolved nearly 20 years of litigation that found lead paint companies Sherman-Williams Co., NL Industries and ConAgra Grocery Products Co., create a public nuisance by promoting the use of toxic lead pigment in homes. Our attorneys continue to litigate cases seeking to hold the lead paint pigment industry accountable for the childhood lead poisoning crisis and to provide restitution and compensation to affected children and families.

Motley Rice LLC is one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms. With a tradition of representing those whose rights have been violated, Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their pioneering asbestos lawsuits, their work with the State Attorneys General in the landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and their representation of 9/11 families in the ongoing lawsuit against terrorist financiers. Motley Rice is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and has additional offices in Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; and West Virginia. For more information, contact Motley Rice attorney Carmen Scott (SC), Nicholas Williams (SC) or Lance Oliver (AL, DC, FL, SC) at 1.800.768.4026 or visit Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, is engaged in the New Jersey practice of law through Motley Rice New Jersey LLC. Esther Berezofsky is the attorney responsible for New Jersey practice.