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American Foods Group Settles Five E. coli O157:H7 Claims

SEATTLE -- American Foods Group, Inc (“AFG”), the meat supplier implicated in the recent Chicagoland E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, today settled the claims of five people sickened during the November 2000 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Health department investigations linked the earlier outbreak to ground beef distributed by AFG. Among the claimants were several members of a family stationed at Great Lakes, Illinois, naval base, and two Eau Claire, Wisconsin women. Amounts of the settlements are confidential.

Not released from future claims were the grocery stores also implicated in the outbreak – Supervalu and Cub Foods.

Bill Marler, of the Seattle, Washington law firm, Marler Clark, announced the settlement this afternoon. “We’re happy to have resolved these cases with AFG. Moreover, we were impressed with the company’s handling of these claims, as well as their efforts to manufacture safer meat. They did the right thing by stepping up and taking responsibility – other companies should learn from this example,” said Marler. “Still, it’s important for people to keep in mind that no one plans for these outbreaks to sicken individuals like my clients, least of all companies like AFG.”

The dangerous E. coli O157:H7 bacteria is found in about half the cattle at the nation’s feed lots, according to the latest United States Department of Agriculture study. Additionally, about 100 deaths and over 70,000 illnesses are caused by the bacteria annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm’s attorneys are currently lead counsel in actions related to E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and hepatitis outbreaks in several states. In February 2001, Marler Clark secured a $4.75 million jury verdict against the Finley School District in Eastern Washington for several children were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after eating contaminated beef served to them in a school lunch. These were the first E. coli claims in the county to go to the jury.

Earlier noteworthy successes include managing partner’s, William Marler’s, 1993 $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box for Brianne Kiner, after she was infected with E coli O157:H7 during the highly publicized outbreak. In addition, Marler Clark resolved the claims of five families for $12 million in 1998, after their children were infected with E. coli 0157:H7 by drinking Odwalla apple juice contaminated with the bacteria.

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More about the AFG / Supervalu E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.

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