Plaintiffs’ lawyer William Marler has reportedly filed suit against Cargill on behalf of the guardian of a woman allegedly paralyzed by consuming hamburger contaminated with E. coli. Stephanie Smith was profiled in a recent New York Times article; she is a former dance instructor who reportedly became ill in 2007, began having seizures and was comatose for three months. According to Marler, she has spent two years in rehabilitation at a cost of some $2 million and remains in a wheelchair. He contends that his client has attempted mediation with the company but has been unable to reach a fair agreement.

A Cargill spokesperson was quoted as saying, “Cargill deeply regrets Ms. Smith’s continuing suffering due to her illness. Each time Ms. Smith’s family has asked for financial assistance to cover out-of-pocket and rehabilitation costs, Cargill has advanced funds to help her and her family. We will continue to provide assistance to maximize her recovery and will continue to work with her counsel to reach a fair resolution.”

Meanwhile, Connecticut Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has reportedly called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close a Cargill-owned meatpacking plant, which has apparently issued its second ground beef recall this year. Beef Packers, Inc. products have reportedly been linked to Salmonella outbreaks that occurred in August and December. According to USDA, the agency “has acted aggressively in the wake of both . . . Beef Packers recalls.” A Food Safety and Inspection Service spokesperson reportedly indicated that significant improvements, including a new anti-microbial intervention, were implemented in response to the August outbreak, but they occurred after the production date of the products included in the December recall. See, December 7, 8 and 9, 2009.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.