Egg Executives Lose Appeal Over Prison Sentences

Jul 6, 2016

The three-month prison sentences for two egg-industry executives has been upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Last year, Jack DeCoster and his son Peter both pleaded guilty to negligence in relation to insanitary conditions at Quality Egg's Iowa-based  facilities. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as a result of these conditions, a salmonella outbreak sickened perhaps as many as 56,000 people.

Government investigators found dead frogs and rats, piled manure and a lack of sanitizing equipment upon inspecting the Quality Egg facilities. 

Though less than the one-year statutory maximum, some legal experts found the fact the DeCosters received any prison time surprising when compared to other food safety cases.

In the appeal, the DeCosters argue their imprisonment was a grossly disproportionate punishment. Their effort was supported by groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

But in a two-to-one ruling, the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals found the sentences fitting.

Judges Murphy and Greunder agree the DeCosters were negligent in failing to contamination, should have known about risk presented Quality Egg's insanitary conditions. In his dissent Judge Beam says there is no proof the DeCosters knew the eggs were infected with salmonella.