Lawsuit Settled Against Meat Company On Behalf of Boy Sickened by E. coli Tainted School Hamburger


ATHENS, GA - The boy whose illness led to last year’s recall of hamburger sent to schools, military posts, and prisons in the South has settled with the insurer of Bauer Meat Company of Ocala, Florida for an undisclosed amount.

Stephen Tyler Roberts and his parents, Gary and Cheryl Roberts, of Comer, Georgia, announced the settlement which must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Athens, Georgia. According to Gary Roberts, “the money will be held in trust for Tyler for any medical needs he may have in the future. We are pleased that the case resolved.”

In April 1998, Tyler ate hamburger contaminated with the E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria that was supplied to his elementary school cafeteria by Bauer Meat Co. Stephen suffered Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) caused by the E. coli infection. He was hospitalized for a week and required blood transfusions. He did not require dialysis. The parents did not sue the School District.

Tyler’s illness triggered an investigation by health and food safety authorities that eventually led to a recall of 38,000 pounds of hamburger that Bauer distributed to major institutions in North Carolina and Georgia. In October of 1998, the United States Department of Agriculture shut down Bauer Meat Co., saying E. coli contamination made the product “unfit for human consumption.” Bauer Meat subsequently declared bankruptcy.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a School District in the United States unknowingly accepted contaminated meat from a meat supplier. There have been reported occurrences in the States of Washington and Texas within the last year. It is time for the USDA to act to insure that our children are not eating food that is contaminated,” said William Marler, attorney for the Roberts family.

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The Seattle, Washington law firm assisting on the Roberts case represents victims of food borne illness throughout the United States. Since 1993, Marler Clark attorneys have obtained settlements of more than $45 million for cases involving E. coli from such companies as Jack in the Box, Odwalla and McDonalds. The firm also presently represents most of the children injured as a result of E. coli contamination that occurred in June 1998 from the White Water Park near Atlanta.

More about the Bauer Meat E. coli case can be found in the Case News area of this site.