Lawsuit filed against Emmpak, Cargill


NEENAH, WI — Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its successful representation of victims of food-borne illness, and Fox, O’Neill & Shannon, a respected Milwaukee law firm, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Emmpak Foods, Inc., a subsidiary of Cargill, Inc., on behalf of Gerald and Susan Woodson of Neenah.

Susan Woodson was hospitalized for several days in late August and early September with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, one of 57 traced to Emmpak’s Peck Meats Packing division in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Health officials are now calling a leftover hamburger found in Woodson’s refrigerator the “miracle burger” because it enabled them to trace the infections to Emmpak ground beef through genetic testing. The same E. coli strain that caused Woodson’s illness is the one that led to Emmpak’s 400,000 pound ground beef recall on October 1. That recall was expanded to 2.8 million pounds on October 3.

“Scientific testing has proven that Mrs. Woodson’s E. coli infection was the direct result of consuming Emmpak ground beef,” said William Marler, Woodson’s attorney. “An E. coli infection is not a pretty thing. Victims suffer from nausea, bloody diarrhea, and painful abdominal cramping. Severe cases can result in kidney failure and even death. Emmpak should step up, take responsibility and compensate Mrs. Woodson and other victims for what they went through.”

Emmpak closed its Peck Meats plant on October 3, but issued a new recall of 568,000 pounds of fresh beef on October 10. The meat produced in the latest recall was produced on September 23.

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Background: William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark, represented a nine year old girl in her $15.6 million settlement in the Jack in the Box E. coli case in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli case for the five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Since 1993 Marler Clark has successfully resolved well over a thousand food-borne illness matters. Marler Clark and Fox, O’Neill & Shannon have worked together on cases including the Sizzler and American Foods Group E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in Wisconsin. Marler Clark is currently involved in litigation related to the ConAgra E. coli O157:H7 outbreak this summer.

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