E. coli lawsuit blames three major meat companies

Jan 18, 2013
by WLJ

A Minnesota family has filed a lawsuit against Beef Products Inc. (BPI), JBS Swift, Tyson Fresh Meat, and several other companies, blaming them for the 2010 death of Robert Danell. Danell died in 2010 from E. coli poisoning, according to the suit filed on Jan. 8.

Danell’s story ran in the Kansas City Star last December in a series titled “Beef’s Raw Edges.” According to the reports, Danell, a 62-year-old man with Down Syndrome, died after consuming contaminated beef that was linked to an E. coli outbreak that caused 25 illnesses in 17 states.

According to the articles, Minnesota health officials traced the contaminated beef to a plant in Kansas and said the ultimate likely source of the contamination was a slaughter plant in Greeley, CO, operated by JBS.

But the exact location of the E. coli source was not determined.

Danell’s family told the Star later that they were unclear about precisely what happened to Robert until they read the newspaper’s series, which they said prompted them to contact an attorney.

The lawsuit alleges that JBS supplied meat to BPI that was used in hamburger sold to Tyson. It was that product that Danell consumed in December 2009, according to the lawsuit.

BPI founder Eldon Roth said, “While every one of us that produces food regrets any loss associated with a foodborne illness from any source, the lawsuit lacks merit and we will be aggressively defending ourselves and our reputation.”

The lawsuit comes in the middle of BPI’s defamation suit against ABC News.

In an open letter published on MeatingPlace.com, BPI Founder and CEO Eldon Roth issued a response to the lawsuit, saying it lacked merit and misconstrued facts.

“All our products sold to any ground beef processor would have tested negative for E.coli O157:H7,” Roth wrote. “It is our understanding that the ground beef obtained from one of the individuals involved in the Minnesota Department of Health investigation and which contained LFTB was tested for the presence of E.coli O157:H7 and tested negative. Further, based upon the type of ground beef consumed in this case, we know that no trim from the facility alleged to be the source of the E.coli O157:H7 outbreak would have been included in the LFTB we sold to Tyson Fresh Meats.” — WLJ