Seattle Family Sues Cargill Over E. Coli Incident

SEATTLE - Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. is the target of a lawsuit by a family here claiming its two children suffered E. coli infections after eating the supplier's ground beef patties.

The meat company's frozen ground beef products were identified as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in September and October.

"This is not the first time that Cargill or one of its many subsidiaries has had E. coli-related problems that led to illness," said William Marler of Marler Clark, the attorney representing the family. Marler recounted three incidents, in 2000, 2001, and 2002: in which Cargill was connected to E. coli outbreaks and recalled hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef.

The new lawsuit was filed in Dakota County District Court on behalf of Dakota County residents Eric and Jennifer Gustafson and their two children, who both developed the infections. Their daughter was hospitalized for seven days, Marler said.

The Gustafson children's cases were two of three E. coli cases that triggered an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture that eventually led to Cargill's recall of 845,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties for E. coli contamination on October 6.

The Cargill products were sold at retail establishments including Sam's Club, and to restaurants and other institutions throughout the United States.

According to the law firm, 15 E. coli illnesses tied to Cargill ground beef products have been identified in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Since spring of 2007, nearly 30 million pounds of ground beef has been recalled in the United States, Marler said.
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