Tiger Brands [JSE:TBS] has said it will cooperate with the next stage of a listeriosis class action suit, after attorneys Richard Spoor got the go-ahead from the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg earlier in the day to proceed.
The applicants are expected to formally file and initiate the class action in early 2019.
Richard Spoor was representing those affected by listeriosis, a potentially deadly bacterial infection from processed meats. Tiger Brands confirmed that a strand of listeriosis was found at one of its facilities in April this year.
More than 200 people died as a result of the listeriosis outbreak.
The certification order granted on Monday empowers Richard Spoor to initiate class action for various categories of people affected by the outbreak, with the exception of those who opt out before March next year.
In a statement on Monday Tiger Brands said that it and the applicant would jointly share the costs of the publication of a notice indicating the initiation of the class action and of a national toll-free call center, as long as this liability is limited to a maximum of R1m.
The company said it was anticipating that the class action would take place in two stages.
"In the first stage, the respondents’ liability, if any, to the classes will be determined. If any class is successful in the first stage, then the class action will proceed to the second stage," the statement said.
Thamsanqa Malusi of Richard Spoor Inc. Attorneys told Fin24 on Monday morning that the class action order means the firm represents all people affected by the listeriosis outbreak in the manner defined in the application, unless those individuals opt out before March next year.
"We plan to file the particulars of claim in early January. Tiger Brands will also have to counter what our papers say. The important thing for us is to let people know is that the class action extends to all affected persons aside from those who wish to opt out,"
- said Malusi.
Malusi told Fin24 that the class action process will represent four main categories of people.
These categories are people who contracted literiosis and survived, children who contracted listeriosis while their mothers were pregnant with them, those who lost a breadwinner to listeriosis and those supporting someone who contracted listeriosis.
More than 200 people lost their lives due to the listeriosis outbreak, which infected over a thousand people. It was called the largest outbreak on record globally by the World Health Organisation in March.