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Lawsuit filed in county

LAWRENCEVILLE - The first of potentially hundreds of lawsuits against ConAgra Foods involving salmonella contamination of peanut butter has been filed in Gwinnett County.

In the suit filed Feb. 22, Billy Duren seeks $74,000 in damages. The suit alleges the Homer man became sick after eating Great Value and Peter Pan peanut butter.

Those brands were manufactured at ConAgra's Sylvester plant, which is under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While Gwinnett is hundreds of miles from the south Georgia plant, attorney Andy Childers said he filed the suit in the county because the Nebraska-based company's registered agent for Georgia is located in Norcross.

He said he has hundreds of clients from across the country and plans to file more lawsuits after the discovery phase of this suit is under way.

State Court Judge Joe Iannazzone has been assigned to all of the ConAgra cases, Childers said, although he expects most of the cases to be tried separately.

Attorney Angela Spivey, who represents ConAgra, declined to comment about the Duren lawsuit but said cases have been filed in multiple locations.