The couple was grocery shopping at a Bellevue, Neb., Walmart Supercenter. Freis said the cashier handed her one plastic bag for two 42-ounce cans of La Choy and a 2-pound bag of rice.
On the way to the car, the bag broke. The lawsuit says one of the cans of La Choy fell on her right food, breaking her big toe and causing a deep cut.
Freis' attorney, Gage Cobb, said that the cut led to infection. Despite aggressive treatment with antibiotics and two surgical procedures, Lynette Freis' condition declined.
The infection spread through her body, which led to further hospitalizations "and ultimately resulted in her death on March 22, 2011," according to the lawsuit.
Freis originally sued Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; the distributor of its plastic bags, Bunzl Distribution; and the manufacturer, Hilex Poly Co., in Sarpy County District Court.
The court case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Omaha late last week.
The lawsuit says Walmart was negligent for not properly training its employees to prevent overfilling of grocery bags, and knowing when to double-bag the groceries. The suit also says Lynette Freis was provided with a defective grocery bag.
Her estate seeks more than $656,000 in medical expenses, plus further amounts for her pain and suffering and funeral and burial expenses, as well as her husband's loss of consortium.
None of the defendants have responded to the allegations, but Walmart attorney Heidi Guttau-Fox pushed for the move to federal court.