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Malt-O-Meal Wants Suit Moved to Federal Court

Lawyers for Malt-O-Meal yesterday moved to transfer a lawsuit over contaminated cereal from state to federal court, as allowed in interstate cases if each claim is estimated to be more than $75,000.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs found that ironic.

“I’m sure if I called up and said I would settle each case for $75,000 they’d hang up on me,” Denis Stearns said.

Stearns filed his lawsuit on Aug. 5 in King County Superior Court on behalf of two children, and their families, claiming they became ill after eating Malt-O-Meal products.

The two families are seeking unspecified damages.

Stearns said that since then, three more families and one seriously injured adult in Washington have asked to join the local lawsuit.

Malt-O-Meal on June 5 recalled as much as 3 million pounds of its plain toasted oat cereal after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that it was the likely source of an unusual type of salmonella food poisoning that affected more than 200 people across the country.

Stearns said Malt-O-Meal, based in Minnesota, and its insurer, Liberty Mutual, have returned medical bills submitted to them by his clients, and in one case sent a man two cereal coupons in an effort to satisfy his case.

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