A federal judge has approved a settlement between Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. and a Cold Spring woman injured by contaminated meat.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank signed off on the settlement in a sealed court order Tuesday. Terms of the settlement were undisclosed.

Our client, former children’s dance instructor Stephanie Smith sued after E. coli in a Cargill-made hamburger left her paralyzed. Smith was the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times story (found here) about food safety.

According to the Fresno Bee this morning, the Big Fresno Fair has agreed to pay $2.2 million to a Fresno girl who got sick from a strain of E. coli after visiting its petting zoo in 2005. Marler Clark worked with Fresno attorney Warren Paboojian — who represented Angela Malos, the girl who was sickened by the bacteria — informed Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black of the settlement in a Friday hearing. Angela, who is now 6 and in the first grade, was 2 when she became ill after visiting the zoo with her family. She will live with the effects of the bacteria exposure for the rest of her life, Paboojian said.

"This has altered Angela’s life," he said after the hearing. Angela suffered strokes and kidney failure leading to dialysis. She recovered and is fine mentally, said her father, former KMPH (Channel 26.1) anchor John Malos, but the infection permanently affected her motor skills, requiring a full-time aide at school. She also has very limited vision in her right eye from the bacteria.

For more information on past Petting Zoo and Fair outbreaks, visit www.fair-safety.com.

Here is one of the most read articles on the web:

Woman’s Shattered Life Shows Ground Beef Inspection Flaws

It was a busy week for Cargill in the news last week:

Cold Spring E. coli survivor sues Cargill for $100M

Family of E. coli victim sues Cargill for $100 million

Minn. woman sues Cargill for tainted hamburger

Minnesota E. coli victim files $100M lawsuit against Cargill

Minn. woman sues Cargill for $100M over tainted meat

Dancer Paralyzed by E. coli Sues Cargill

Here is a video that should drive the point home:

A second Lincoln family is suing a Massachusetts business that is accused of supplying burger meat tainted with E. coli bacteria during a Lincoln Middle School trip after which several students and staff became sick.

Lincoln resident Barry Santos is the plaintiff on behalf of his daughter Lynn Santos. Lynn and other Lincoln sixth graders and staffers spent Oct. 13 through Oct. 16 doing activities on a class trip at Camp Bournedale in Plymouth, Mass. On the the trip’s last day, they ate burgers.

The suit, filed Friday in Plymouth County, Mass., Superior Court, alleges that Crocetti-Oakdale Packing, doing business as South Shore Meats, sold the "contaminated food" consumed that day and that it "was not fit for the uses and purposes intended by the defendant, i.e.. human consumption," according to a draft copy of the suit.

Some 20 to 30 Lincoln Middle School students and chaperones got sick from E. coli when they returned home, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health spokeswoman.

Earlier this month, Lincoln resident Jaimee Richmond, the mother of middler schooler Austin Richmond, filed suit against the same business.

Somerset, Mass., lawyer Steven P. Sabra is co-counsel for both lawsuits along with the Seattle-based firm Marler Clark, which specializes nationally in litigation involving food-borne illness allegations.
South Shore Meats, in Brockton, issued a voluntary recall after E. coli was found in leftover ground beef samples taken from the camp by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, according to a Rhode Island Department of Health advisory in October.

"I ask myself every day, ‘Why me?’ and ‘Why from a hamburger?’

Michael Moss does an amazing job of exposing the underbelly of how our meat is produced in the United States.

E. coli O157:H7 is a deadly bacteria that nearly took Stephanie Smith’s life.  Every day is a struggle for her now due to the ravages of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.

Despite the odds, she promises to dance again. Read her story and see the videos the New York Times produced – "The Burger That Shattered Her Life."

Cargill’s Response:

"In October 2007 when we learned there may be a problem, we immediately instituted a voluntary recall. A number of people were sickened, including Ms. Smith. Our hearts go out to Ms. Smith and her family, as well as the others whose lives have been so affected by O157:H7. Cargill conducts nearly 400,000 tests for pathogens each year using a testing methodology that exceeds U. S. Department of Agriculture standards. We also require our suppliers to test using a methodology that exceeds USDA standards. A complete food safety system combines antimicrobial interventions, employee training and safe food-handling procedures with testing. The testing verifies the effectiveness of all of these procedures. Over the past 10 years, Cargill has invested $1 billion in ongoing meat science research and new food safety technologies and interventions. We are committed to continuous improvement in the area of food safety."

The 2006 outbreak of E. coli tied to spinach sickened more than 205 people nationwide, many gravely. More than 31 developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) and five lost their lives.

One of the most critically ill was Jane Majeska of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, an 85-year old woman whose fight to stay alive in the months after she consumed the Dole E. coli O157:H7-tainted spinach cost almost a $500,000 dollars. William Marler of the Seattle-based foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark, along with the Fond du Lac firm of Sager, Colwin Samuelsen, this past week filed a lawsuit  in the Fond du Lac branch of the Wisconsin Circuit Court against Dole, Natural Selection Foods, Mission Organics and Pic-n-Save.

“This amazing woman fought through serious medical traumas and has continued to fight to win back her health,” said Marler. “Jane Majeska is alive today because she was incredibly healthy and active before she ate contaminated food, because she had tremendous medical care, and because she fought every hour of every day to get better,” continued Marler. “No one should have to go through that, but if they do, they certainly shouldn’t have to sue to be compensated for it. But sometimes, that’s what it takes.”

Jane Majeska ate Dole spinach in late August 2006. Within days, she was experiencing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that became bloody. She was admitted to the hospital as her kidneys failed and she was diagnosed with HUS. Her months in the hospital were marked by increasingly invasive procedures to address her cascading illnesses. In addition to renal failure, she experienced stroke, cognitive impairment, a collapsed lung, a pulmonary embolism, and the inability to eat or breathe on her own. She was given dialysis, blood transfusions, plasmapheresis, and survived on a feeding tube and ventilator. Even as she began to improve, she required aggressive physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as rehabilitation nursing.

Although E. coli outbreaks are often associated with meat, produce-borne outbreaks have become more frequent in recent years. The Center for Science in the Public Interest noted that fully 25 percent of E. coli outbreaks from 1990-1998 were traced to produce. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that over the last 12 years, twenty-two E. coli outbreaks have been traced specifically to leafy greens.

 

 

Three Family Members Sickened in Wisconsin, One Gravely.

A Wisconsin family sickened in the JBS Swift Beef Company outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 will file suit against the company Wednesday. The lawsuit will be brought by the Seattle-based foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark in the Federal Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin. This is the third lawsuit filed by Marler Clark in the aftermath of the JBS Swift outbreak, which sickened at least 23 people in nine states, 12 of whom had to be hospitalized.

“This has been a very difficult summer for contaminated meat,” said the family’s attorney, Drew Falkenstein. “Not only have there been several E. coli recalls, but now there is also a large recall of beef contaminated with Salmonella by Beef Packers Inc. With the huge uptick of tainted meat in the last several years, it’s vital that we dedicate resources on every level to prevent more families from going through what the Rosplochs had to endure.”

Nicole and Gerard Rosploch purchased ground beef from a Pick N Save near their home in Brookfield; the meat was later determined to be part of the recall of 420,000 pounds of beef by the JBS Swift Company of Greeley, Colorado. The family (except for Nicole, a vegetarian) made and consumed hamburgers on Sunday, July 19. By Thursday, Gerard and their two sons began to have abdominal cramps and nausea. On Friday, the 7-year-old began to experience frequent episodes of vomiting and frequent diarrhea, some of it bloody. His parents took him to the ER, where he was checked and released, having submitted a stool sample. Meanwhile his older brother, 11, began to show increased signs of illness including vomiting and diarrhea. Gerard’s illness also continued, although not as severe as his sons’.

When the youngest child continued to worsen, he was returned to the ER, where it was learned that the stool sample he previously submitted was positive for E. coli O157:H7. He was admitted to the hospital, where he continued to be very ill. By July 28, tests revealed that he had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS—a complication of E. coli infection. The child had to have dialysis for the next 10 days, as well as blood transfusions.

Meanwhile, Gerard began to improve, but his 11-year-old son was still sick at home. For several weeks, the parents split hospital and home care responsibilities.

Their younger son is now also at home, and continues to recover from his illness. He is still on medication to regulate his blood pressure. The genetic fingerprint of the E. coli in his stool sample was a match to that of the JBS Swift outbreak.

 

A confidential settlement was reached July 30th on behalf of twelve-year-old Rebecca Gosla, who was sickened in a 2007 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to contaminated ground beef that were manufactured by United Foods. Rebecca’s illness stands apart from most E. coli O157:H7 infections, even for children who develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  She was hospitalized for over a month, suffered weeks of dialysis, and her medical bills were nearly $200,000.

The severity and duration of her HUS-related complications, including the complete failure of kidney function as indicated by the lack of urine-production, makes Rebecca’s prognosis concerning. It is possible that her kidney-function will decline over time to a point that kidney transplantation or maintenance-dialysis will be necessary for her survival.

Rebecca’s Illness was a result of E. coli O157:H7-tainted hamburger that was part of a recall announced on June 3, 2007 by United Food Group, LLC (“United Foods”). 75,000 pounds of ground beef products was recalled after testing conducted by health departments in California and Colorado revealed contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The company reported that the ground beef had been produced on April 20, 2007 and shipped to retail distribution centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Utah. Three days later, on June 6, 2007, United Foods expanded its recall to 370,000 pounds of ground beef. Investigation by the CDC and state health department had uncovered a link between United Foods’ ground beef and illnesses “in several states.” The expanded recall included products produced on April 13, in addition to April 20, 2007. Additional states were now also involved, including Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Washington, and Wyoming.

Three days later, on June 9, 2007, United Foods was again forced to expand its recall, this time dramatically enlarging its scope. More United foods fresh ground beef, not originally included in the recall, had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 in Arizona. The strain of E. coli O157:H7 isolated was genetically indistinguishable from the strain that had led to the original recall. The newly recalled ground beef tested in the Arizona had been sold under a major grocery store label as opposed to a pre-packaged chub shipped from United Foods. At this time, United expanded its recall to include 5.7 million pounds of its ground beef. The recall now extended to both fresh and frozen ground beef. By this time, United Foods ground beef had been linked to fourteen culture-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections in the following states: Arizona (6); California, (3); Colorado (2); Idaho (1); Utah (1); and Wyoming (1).

It is time to prevent the next Rebecca.