SEATTLE, WA – A lawsuit was filed today against Topps Meat Company, the meat producer whose ground beef products have been identified as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, and who expanded a ground beef recall to include 21.7 million pounds of meat over the weekend. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Albany County, New York, residents Robert and Catherine McDonald and their young daughter, who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection and was hospitalized after eating a hamburger made of Topps Meats ground beef on August 17th. The McDonald family is represented by the Seattle law firm, Marler Clark, and the upstate New York law firm Underberg & Kessler.
According to the lawsuit, the McDonalds’ daughter fell ill with symptoms of an E. coli infection, including nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, chills, and muscle aches on August 20. On August 22, she was admitted to the hospital, where she provided a stool specimen that later returned positive for E. coli O157:H7. She was released from the hospital on August 24, and continues her recovery at home.
“We saw massive recalls and countless illnesses and deaths due to E. coli-contaminated ground beef in the 1990s,” said William Marler, attorney for the McDonald family. “Between 1993 and 2002, my clients were awarded $250 million in verdicts and settlements from the meat and restaurant industries. But in 2002, meat producers cleaned up their act. I touted the meat industry as a model for what an industry could do that was right to protect consumers.”
“Aside from sporadic cases, outbreaks traced back to meat products have been largely absent in the last five years,” Marler continued, noting that together with Underberg & Kessler Marler Clark represented another young Albany County child in a lawsuit against Topps two years ago. “2007 has been an anomaly in the meat industry, but now that outbreaks are happening, the industry needs to once again step up to the plate and compensate consumers for their injuries.”
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark and Underberg & Kessler have together represented hundreds of New York citizens who have become ill with food- or water-borne illnesses. The firms represented seventy victims of the Brook-Lea Country Club Salmonella outbreak in Rochester in 2002. They have also teamed up to represent a six-year-old girl from White Plains, New York, who developed HUS and nearly died after eating an E. coli-contaminated hamburger made with meat purchased from BJ’s Wholesale Club and the family of a man who died of an acute hepatitis A infection after eating at the Maple Lawn Dairy in Elmira, New York. The firms currently represent thousands of victims of the Cryptosporidium outbreak traced to contaminated water at the Seneca Lake State Park in central New York in 2005 and several victims of last year’s spinach E. coli outbreak.
More about the Topps E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.