Same Meat Supplier Reportedly Implicated in 1993 and 2000 Sizzler Outbreaks


MILWAUKEE, WI - The team of law firms that has already filed two lawsuits on behalf of victims of the Sizzler E. coli outbreak today amended one complaint to allege that Excel Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Cargill Corporation, was the manufacturer of the contaminated meat that is thought to have been one cause of the outbreak that has sickened 62 people and killed one child. “We understand that CDC’s investigation has concluded that Excel, the same company that supplied meat to Sizzler in 1993, has been identified as the source of the contaminated beef that is believed to have been the source of the bacteria that caused the Milwaukee E. coli outbreak,” explained William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark, which represents 7 other Milwaukee residents with the Milwaukee law firm of Fox, Shannon & O’Neill.

The contaminated beef is believed to have originated at Excel’s meat plant located in Fort Morgan, Colorado. “The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service suspended operations at Excel’s Fort Morgan in September 1999 after the deadly E. coli O157:H7 bacteria was found in ground beef manufactured there,” said Denis Stearns, of the Seattle law firm of Marler Clark.

Mr. Marler continued: “Four Sizzlers in Washington and Oregon were implicated in an E. coli outbreak that sickened dozens. Three of the outbreaks occurred in March 1993, and one outbreak occurred in August 1993, involving a total of 39 confirmed cases of E. coli and 54 probable cases. From sources close to Sizzler USA, we understand that it switched to vacuum-packed meat after the in-store cutting of raw beef was implicated as the cause of the cross-contamination that sickened so many in 1993. Unfortunately, it seems that Sizzler USA, which filed for bankruptcy in 1996, may have switched back to its old, less safe procedures, perhaps as a way of saving money.”

The plaintiff in this lawsuit, Ervin Lesak, ate at the Sizzler on July 18 and consumed food that was contaminated with the deadly E. coli bacteria. He tested positive for the bacteria and was hospitalized for five days.

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Background: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of food-borne illness. Mr. Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box. He also secured compensation totaling $30 million for other victims from the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. In May 1998, Marler Clark settled the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children were severely injured after consuming Odwalla apple juice. Marler Clark is currently lead counsel in actions stemming from several E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Hepatitis outbreaks in Washington, California, Ohio, Missouri and Arizona. Marler Clark has litigated on behalf of children against KFC, McDonalds, Hardees, Subway, Carl’s Jr., and Sizzler. Marler Clark is also representing children in E. coli outbreaks stemming from contaminated beef served in a school lunch and a swimming pool in Atlanta. For further information on E. coli visit www.about-ecoli.com.

More about the Sizzler E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.