Firm in Cold Spring woman's E. coli case gives $25,000


The Seattle law firm that represents clients nationwide in food-borne illness cases has donated $25,000 to Rocori High School for science scholarships.

Marler Clark, which represented Rocori graduate Stephanie Smith in an E. coli case against Cargill, donated the money to encourage and support students interested in science, especially in food safety and the treatment of food-borne disease, attorney Bill Marler said.

The donation will endow an annual scholarship of $1,250 to $1,500, Marler said. His firm occasionally donates to similar causes, and the partners in the firm have set up scholarships like the one at Rocori at their high schools, Marler said.

Marler represented Smith when she became ill after eating a hamburger tainted with E. coli. Smith nearly died after contracting the disease in 2007 and later sued Cargill.

Marler said that Smith was aware of the donation, although she has been focused on her recovery.

“She’s got a long way to go, cognitively and physically,” Marler said of Smith. “She’s more focused on learning how to walk again.”

The case against Cargill has since settled, and a court hearing scheduled for today in St. Paul is intended for a federal judge to review and approve the terms of the settlement.

Marler represents numerous plaintiffs in food-borne illness cases across the country. He also has lobbied Congress for a food-safety bill to provide more money for the Food and Drug Administration to inspect and improve the safety of the nation’s food supply.