SEATTLE, WA —A lawsuit was filed today against Interstate Meats, Inc., the Clackamas, Oregon meat producer whose ground beef products were identified as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among Washington, Oregon, and Idaho residents in July and August. The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington by Marler Clark on behalf of Brian Leamon, a 21-year-old King County resident who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection and was hospitalized for three days after eating Interstate Meats ground beef.
The lawsuit is the first filed by Marler Clark in connection with the Interstate Meats E. coli outbreak, although the firm represents several other victims of the outbreak, and more lawsuits could follow. At least nine people – two from Oregon, six from Washington, and one from Idaho – became ill during the outbreak.
“Since 2002, the number of meat recalls and E. coli outbreaks connected to ground beef had been steadily declining, and our focus shifted from contamination in meat processing facilities to spinach and lettuce fields—until now,” said William Marler, Mr. Leamon’s attorney, noting that over 6.5 million pounds of meat have been recalled this year for potential E. coli contamination. Marler continued, “As The Terminator would say, ‘E. coli in ground beef is baaaack.’”
· In April, Richwood Meat Co. of Merced, California, recalled 107,900 pounds of frozen ground beef products, and HFX of South Claysburg, Pennsylvania, recalled 4,900 pounds of meat products. Both companies’ products had been linked to E. coli outbreaks.
· In May, PM Beef Holdings of Windom, Minnesota, recalled 117,500 pounds of beef trim products, and Davis Creek Meats and Seafood of Kalamazoo, Michigan, recalled 129,000 pounds of beef products after their products were linked to E. coli outbreaks.
· In June, the Meat Market of Fresno, California, recalled tri-tip and United Food Group of Vernon, California, recalled 5.7 million pounds of ground beef when the products were identified as the source of E. coli outbreaks, and Tyson Fresh Meats of Sherman, Texas, recalled 440,000 pounds of ground beef for possible E. coli contamination.
· In July, Custom Pack of Hastings, Neb. recalled 5,920 pounds of ground beef and buffalo products due to potential E. coli contamination after illness was linked to consumption of the company’s products.
· In August, Interstate Meats issued its ground beef recall after Mr. Leamon and eight others became ill with E. coli infections. So far in September, Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., voluntarily recalled 884 pounds of ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S.