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    Sheetz Tomatoes Suit Marches On

    Arguments circle around which companies will be involved in a civil lawsuit involving sickened customers and the convenience chain.

    HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. -- A Blair County president judge, Jolene G. Kopriva, heard arguments earlier this week from several companies that are asking to be excluded from a civil lawsuit where convenience store chain Sheetz Inc. is being sued by customers who became ill with salmonella because of tainted tomatoes in 2004, the Altoona Mirror reported.

    Meanwhile, Sheetz is asking to be reimbursed from its former tomato supplier Coronet Foods of Wheeling, W.Va., for the money it lost, the report stated. At the same time, Coronet added additional businesses to be included in the lawsuit, such as companies that supplied it with the tomatoes, including Coronet tomato supplier, Procacci Brothers Sales Corp. of Philadelphia.

    A tomato from a container of Procacci tomatoes at a Sheetz Store tested positive for one strain of salmonella, which resulted in sickness for several customers.

    "You can't blame Procacci when you don't know where it [salmonella] came from," Procacci attorney Robert Arcovio said.

    Blair County Court Administrator Michael D. Reighard told the Mirror no trial date has been set, and it most likely will not be this year.

    Attorneys for all involved parties had the opportunity to review reports from government agencies that investigated the outbreak, along with expert reports provided by representatives of the various companies, the report stated.

    Judge Kopriva oversaw a three-hour hearing earlier this week, which included 19 lawyers representing the victims, Sheetz, the tomato producers and distributors.

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