Lawsuit Filed by Children Poisoned by E. coli in School Lunch


PROSSER, WA - A local school district and its beef supplier were sued today in Benton County Superior Court by eight children who became ill last October after eating taco meat served in a school lunch program. The children became infected with E. coli after eating under-cooked, contaminated hamburger. The suit is also being filed on behalf of one child who contracted the deadly bacteria through contact with children who attended Finley Elementary School.

Attorneys Bill Marler and Bruce Clark of the Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark filed the lawsuit for unspecified damages on behalf of the injured children and their parents against both Finley School District No. 53 and Omaha, Nebraska-based Northern States Beef. The school district is named for under-cooking the hamburger used to make tacos for a school lunch and Northern States for supplying the bad beef.

Five of the nine children from last October’s outbreak of E. coli poisoning were treated for the foodborne illnesses and released from Kennewick hospitals. Four children, however, developed kidney failure and were transported to Children’s Hospital in Seattle where they remained for one week to one month. One of the children will likely require kidney transplants.

“Since last December, we have tried to work with Finley School District and Northern States to resolve these claims amicably and out of Court, but they have ignored the needs of these children,” said Marler. “They have refused even to pay medical bills.”

Marler and Clark said they have provided the defense attorneys and insurance companies of both the Finley School District and Northern States with the medical records and reports on the injured children. “They refuse to deal fairly with these families,” Clark said. “Bringing a lawsuit was the only alternative available."

The hamburger contaminated with the deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria was purchased for the Finley School District by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Purchase Program from Northern States. 18 months prior to the purchase, Northern States was cited for 171 “critical” violations of federal food safety regulations by USDA’s own Food Safety & Inspection Service, according to a recent investigative report by the Washington D.C.-based Cox News Service.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, once the meat was in the hands of the Finley School District, the meat was not sufficiently cooked. “The differences in the preparation, handling, and transport of meat may have allowed for uneven cooking, uneven cooling, and uneven re-heating at the Elementary School,” Heath Department investigators wrote. “This outbreak and the resulting investigation highlight the importance of regular inspections of institutional kitchens and the need for training of food service workers.”

Finley School District encompasses 93 square miles of Benton County, WA near the state’s Tri-Cities, 220 miles southeast of Seattle. Northern States is a subsidiary of Conagra, the nation’s largest publicly traded food company with 1998 sales of $23.84 billion. It is based in Omaha.

###

Attorneys at the Marler Clark firm have a long track record of successful lawsuits in food-borne illness cases, especially those involving injury to children. Among the victims of foodborne illness that Marler Clark attorneys have successfully represented and currently represent are those sickened in the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak; the Odwalla E. coli outbreak; the Malt-O-Meal Salmonella outbreak; the White Water park E. coli outbreak in Atlanta; the Golden Corral E. coli outbreak in Kearney, NE; the Bauer Meats E. coli outbreak in Athens, GA, and the Sun Orchard Salmonella outbreak.

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

 

PROSSER, WA - A local school district and its beef supplier were sued today in Benton County Superior Court by eight children who became ill last October after eating taco meat served in a school lunch program. The children became infected with E. coli after eating under-cooked, contaminated hamburger. The suit is also being filed on behalf of one child who contracted the deadly bacteria through contact with children who attended Finley Elementary School.

Attorneys Bill Marler and Bruce Clark of the Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark filed the lawsuit for unspecified damages on behalf of the injured children and their parents against both Finley School District No. 53 and Omaha, Nebraska-based Northern States Beef. The school district is named for under-cooking the hamburger used to make tacos for a school lunch and Northern States for supplying the bad beef.

Five of the nine children from last October’s outbreak of E. coli poisoning were treated for the foodborne illnesses and released from Kennewick hospitals. Four children, however, developed kidney failure and were transported to Children’s Hospital in Seattle where they remained for one week to one month. One of the children will likely require kidney transplants.

“Since last December, we have tried to work with Finley School District and Northern States to resolve these claims amicably and out of Court, but they have ignored the needs of these children,” said Marler. “They have refused even to pay medical bills.”

Marler and Clark said they have provided the defense attorneys and insurance companies of both the Finley School District and Northern States with the medical records and reports on the injured children. “They refuse to deal fairly with these families,” Clark said. “Bringing a lawsuit was the only alternative available."

The hamburger contaminated with the deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria was purchased for the Finley School District by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Purchase Program from Northern States. 18 months prior to the purchase, Northern States was cited for 171 “critical” violations of federal food safety regulations by USDA’s own Food Safety & Inspection Service, according to a recent investigative report by the Washington D.C.-based Cox News Service.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, once the meat was in the hands of the Finley School District, the meat was not sufficiently cooked. “The differences in the preparation, handling, and transport of meat may have allowed for uneven cooking, uneven cooling, and uneven re-heating at the Elementary School,” Heath Department investigators wrote. “This outbreak and the resulting investigation highlight the importance of regular inspections of institutional kitchens and the need for training of food service workers.”

Finley School District encompasses 93 square miles of Benton County, WA near the state’s Tri-Cities, 220 miles southeast of Seattle. Northern States is a subsidiary of Conagra, the nation’s largest publicly traded food company with 1998 sales of $23.84 billion. It is based in Omaha.

###

Attorneys at the Marler Clark firm have a long track record of successful lawsuits in food-borne illness cases, especially those involving injury to children. Among the victims of foodborne illness that Marler Clark attorneys have successfully represented and currently represent are those sickened in the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak; the Odwalla E. coli outbreak; the Malt-O-Meal Salmonella outbreak; the White Water park E. coli outbreak in Atlanta; the Golden Corral E. coli outbreak in Kearney, NE; the Bauer Meats E. coli outbreak in Athens, GA, and the Sun Orchard Salmonella outbreak.

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