The husband of the first U.S. resident to die of swine flu has begun to take steps toward filing a billion dollar wrongful death suit against the American co-owners of the Mexican pig farm where the outbreak is believed to have originated.

On May 11, Steven Trunnell filed a petition in Cameron County, Texas to conduct discovery against Smithfield Foods Inc., doing business as Granjas Carroll de Mexico, in order to determine whether or not the operators of the pig farm may be held accountable for the death of his wife, Judy Trunnell.

At the time Judy Trunnell developed flu-like symptoms, she was eight months pregnant. She slipped into a coma, but doctors were able to perform a Caesarean section to deliver her baby girl. However, the doctors could not save the 33-year-old woman and she died on May 5.

Steven Trunnell claims that his wife was in “perfect health” before she contracted the N1H1 flu. However, state health officials reported that she had a chronic respiratory condition.

Steven Trunnell seeks a court order that would authorize depositions, or oral examinations, of company officials, employees, and agents to investigate wrongful death claims against Smithfield Foods Inc.

The petition says that if enough evidence is discovered to justify the wrongful death claims made against Smithfield Foods, Trunnell could seek a wrongful death claim and survival damages of up to $1 billion.

Trunnell could also seek to bring a class action suit against Smithfield Foods, calling for the company to “cease and desist all misconduct related to the unsanitary and unsafe operations of its gargantuan pig farm operation in Mexico.
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