SEATTLE, WA - William Marler, a partner in the Seattle-based law firm specializing in food borne illness cases, said today that it is not the first time the Sara Lee Corp’s Bil Mar Foods processing plant at Zeeland, Michigan, which produces Ball Park hot dogs and Mr. Turkey deli meat, has had problems. In fact, it was closed down a year ago by the United States Department of Agriculture for contamination inside the facility. Products made at the plant have been the subject of five separate recalls since 1994, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service records. “It is unfortunate that more was not done to prevent contamination. The deaths in Ohio and New York speak to the serious nature of the current outbreak of listeria,” Marler said.
“Families suffering serious injury or death should know there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about this outbreak,” Marler said. “What were the conditions in this troubled processing plant? Why was the product not recalled until Dec. 22nd, after a corporate stock split? How much of this contaminated product was consumed by the public? It is unacceptable that this single listeria strain moved faster than the investigators or the manufacturers, injuring people in ten states and resulting in four wrongful deaths.”
Marler said his law firm has been investigating the outbreak since being contacted by several persons who were injured from consuming the products that are subjects of the recall. Marler, who was lead counsel in the Jack in the Box class action in 1993, and recovered $30 million for his clients said, “injured persons have the option of suing Sara Lee Corp. individually or joining in a class action. However, each of these victim’s claims, especially the families of persons who died, need immediate and individual attention.”
Marler Clark has represented hundreds of victims of food borne illnesses, including both the 1993 Jack-In-The-Box and 1996 Odwalla Juice outbreaks that involved E coli poisoning. Marler Clark has also sucessfully recovered damages against MacDonalds and Wendy's. They currently represent several school children sickened by undercooked hamburger, and swimmers at White Water Park in Atlanta who were all sickened by E. coli poisoning.