E. coli lawsuit filed against Carneco in connection with Sam's Club Outbreak


MINNEAPOLIS—Marler Clark, the Seattle foodborne illness attorneys, filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of nine-year-old Eagan resident, Joseph Blair, who suffered from an E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating an E. coli-contaminated hamburger produced by Carneco and sold by Sam’s Club. The lawsuit, which was filed in Dakota County District Court, names Carneco Foods as defendant. Co-counsel in the case is Joseph Flynn of Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

Carneco recalled approximately 497,000 pounds of frozen ground beef and beef patties on August 3, after the USDA confirmed a link from ground beef produced at Carneco on June 21 to five ill individuals in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Joseph Blair. The lawsuit asks that Joseph and his parents, Jim and Jane Blair, be compensated for medical and medical-related expenses, lost wages, and other damages related to Joseph’s E. coli infection.

“Under the law, Carneco had a duty to produce ground beef that was fit for human consumption,” said William Marler, attorney for the Blairs. “A product contaminated with a deadly pathogen is hardly fit for human consumption.”

Joseph Blair suffered bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and pain, fatigue, and lack of appetite for two days before seeing his family physician on July 26. He was severely dehydrated, and stool samples were taken to be cultured for pathogenic bacteria. It was not until his, and four others’, stool samples cultured positive for E. coli O157:H7 that state health officials were able to epidemiologically link all five E. coli cases to Carneco meat, that the recall was instituted.

“Joseph was fortunate not to develop serious complications of E. coli infection, but he was severely dehydrated and suffered a great deal during the acute phase of his illness,” Marler continued. “Contaminated ground beef should not be making it onto consumers’ plates and making them ill.”

Marler, whose law firm has represented over 1,000 E. coli victims over the last ten years, represented victims of the Milwaukee Sizzler outbreak as well as outbreaks in Midwestern states linked to meat producers such as AFG, Emmpak, Excel, and ConAgra and the Minnesota restaurant China Buffet.

Marler will be in Grand Rapids, MN on September 30 to present to the Minnesota Environmental Health Association on the Intersection Between the Law and Public Health.

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BACKGROUND: William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million E. coli settlement with Jack in the Box. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Total recoveries exceed $175 million. The partners at Marler Clark speak frequently on issues of safe food and formed OutBreak, Inc., a non-profit business dedicated to training companies on how to avoid foodborne diseases. See also: www.EcoliLitigation.com and www.EcoliBlog.com.

More about the Sam's Club E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.