Meatpacker sued over E. coli outbreak

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) -- A woman sickened by E. coli bacteria after eating hamburger is suing a Green Bay meatpacker, accusing the company of negligence.

Rose Deede's lawsuit against American Foods Group Inc. is the first to be filed in Wisconsin following an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least 43 people in Wisconsin and Minnesota, her attorney, Michael Hanrahan, said Wednesday.

A St. Paul, Minn., woman and an Illinois couple who claimed they were sickened in the outbreak have also filed suit.

American Foods supplied ground beef to Cub Foods stores, where all three groups said they bought the meat that made them ill. Deede, 57, said she developed nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain four days after cooking the ground beef. Tests showed evidence of E. coli bacteria, her lawsuit says.

Minnesota health and agriculture officials linked the initial E. coli illnesses in Minnesota to ground beef that was produced at American Foods, and the meatpacker voluntarily recalled more than 1 million pounds of ground beef in 23 states.

American Foods spokeswoman Susan Finco said company executives had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and declined comment Wednesday. American Foods has said it has found no evidence the E. coli entered the ground beef on its premises.

Deede's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Seattle attorney William Marler, who represented victims of a 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, is helping her case.

Two Minnesota children sickened in the outbreak remain hospitalized with an E. coli complication that can lead to kidney failure.