Children Stricken with E. coli Sue Meat Companies

Massachusetts, Rhode Island plaintiffs were hospitalized after eating E. coli-contaminated meat

BOSTON, MA (November 3, 2009)—E. coli lawsuits were filed today in Plymouth County Superior Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on behalf of two children who recently became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after consuming contaminated ground beef produced by two different companies. The lawsuits were filed against Brockton, Mass.-based Crocetti’s Oakdale Packing, Inc., doing business as South Shore Meats Inc., and Ashville, NY-based Fairbank Farms, Inc. Both companies recalled meat last week after their products were identified as the source of separate E. coli outbreaks in the Northeast.

According to the complaint filed by her parents, 12-year-old Andrea Munro, a Marshfield, Massachusetts resident, ate ground beef produced by Fairbank Farms on September 24, 2009 and became ill with an E. coli infection on September 28. She was hospitalized for six days as a result of her infection. While hospitalized, Andrea tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

Eleven-year-old Austin Richmond, a Lincoln, Rhode Island, resident, became ill with an E. coli infection on October 17, one day after returning from a class trip to Camp Bournedale, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. According to the complaint filed by his mother, Austin consumed a hamburger made from ground beef produced by South Shore Meats, Inc. while at Camp Bournedale. He received medical treatment three separate times before being admitted to the hospital for further care on October 29-30. Austin tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 infection and is still recovering from his injuries.

Both plaintiffs are represented by Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, and by Steven Sabra of the Somerset, MA firm Sabra & Aspden.

On October 31, Fairbank Farms recalled 545,699 pounds of fresh ground beef products for potential E. coli contamination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that “The recall was based on an ongoing investigation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Connecticut, Main, and Massachusetts state health and agriculture departments into a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections.” E. coli cases associated with the outbreak have since been reported in ME, MD, MA, NY, NH, PA, CT, RI, SD, and VT, according to the CDC. The retail distribution list for meat produced by Fairbank Farms was released on November 1.

South Shore Meats, Inc. recalled 1,039 pounds of fresh ground beef patties derived from bench trim and mechanically tenderized beef cuts on October 26, 2009 after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) confirmed a positive test for E. coli O157:H7 in the meat during an epidemiological investigation into an E. coli outbreak. MDPH, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDH), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were conducting a joint investigation into an E. coli outbreak when the meat tested positive.

Consumer Resource: Downloadable Family Health Guide on E. coli (PDF)