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E. coli lawsuit filed against Minnesota meat supplier, grocer

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – A lawsuit was filed today against PM Beef Holdings, LLC and Lund Food Holdings, Inc., the producer and retailer who sold E. coli-contaminated ground beef traced to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Minnesota and Wisconsin residents in April, 2007. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Anne Herwig, a Minneapolis, Minnesota, resident who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection and was hospitalized after eating contaminated ground beef in April. Ms. Herwig is represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm with a long track record of successfully representing victims of foodborne illness.

Ms. Herwig is one of seven Minnesotans who were confirmed as part of the E. coli outbreak that prompted PM Beef Holdings to recall 117,500 pounds of beef trim products that was ground and sold at Lunds and Byerly’s stores. She consumed the ground beef on April 19, and became ill with symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection, including bloody diarrhea, on April 24. Ms. Herwig was hospitalized twice between April 25 and April 30, when she was finally discharged to recover at home. She has yet to make a full recovery.

“While the reported incidence of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks traced to ground beef is significantly lower than what it was five years ago, meat suppliers must keep their focus on preventing contamination from happening,” commented William Marler, Ms. Herwig’s attorney. “Recent history proves that E. coli contamination in our slaughterhouses is still a public health issue.”

Marler, who represents several victims of last year’s E. coli outbreak in Longville, Minnesota, that was traced to ground beef served at a church picnic, pointed out that several E. coli outbreaks in the last few months have been traced to contaminated meat products.

· At least 13 people have been confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating ground beef produced by United Food Group sold in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Montana.

· Eleven people have been confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Fresno County. The Fresno County Department of Community Health inspected the “Meat Market” in Northwest Fresno, a potential source of the outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing.

· At least two people were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Michigan after eating ground beef produced by Davis Creek Meats and Seafood of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The E. coli outbreak prompted Davis Creek Meats and Seafood to recall approximately 129,000 pounds of beef products that were distributed in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

· Several people were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Pennsylvania after eating E. coli-contaminated meat products at Hoss’s Family Steak and Sea Restaurants, a Pennsylvania-based restaurant chain that purchased its meat from HFX, Inc., of South Claysburg, Pennsylvania. As a result of the outbreak, HFX recalled approximately 4,900 pounds of meat products.

“In the last few years, our focus, and that of the food industry, has been on fresh produce contamination. These outbreaks are an important reminder that E. coli O157:H7 comes from cows and the only way to prevent E. coli outbreaks from happening is to prevent the contamination in the first place,” Marler concluded.

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks since Bill Marler represented over 100 victims of the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. The firm has litigated high profile E. coli cases against Excel, AFG, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, ConAgra, and other food companies.

More about the PM Beef Holdings E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.

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