E. Coli Litigation

A resource for E. Coli Outbreak Legal Cases sponsored by Marler Clark

MeatView Outbreaks

Tenderized steaks and other non-intact beef can be contaminated with E. coli.

Because E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogenic E. coli can live in healthy cattle, it is ubiquitous in feedlots and slaughterhouses. During the slaughtering process, the contents of a cow’s intestines or fecal material present on the animal’s hide can contaminate meat, and because E. coli thrives in a warm, moist environment, any bacteria present on the meat’s surface quickly multiples

All cuts of meat have the potential to become surface-contaminated with E. coli; however, intact cuts are cooked at a hot enough temperature to kill any bacteria present on the surface, and E. coli does not naturally penetrate the surface of meat. Cuts of meat that are mechanically tenderized (and are therefore not classified as intact) can become contaminated with E. coli throughout if the tenderizer carries E. coli from the surface of the meat to the interior. With ground beef, which is generally made from trim, the surface is distributed throughout the product during the grinding process. As contaminated meat is ground, more surface area is created, and additional meat becomes contaminated with E. coli. Meat from several cows can be ground together at multiple stages during processing, presenting the opportunity for E. coli from one cow to contaminate millions of pounds of ground beef and hamburgers.

In 2010, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats recalled ground bison meat sold at various supermarkets after a public health investigation into an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak led to the determination that the bison meat was the source of at least 10 E. coli cases in 5 states. Marler Clark represented the family of a Colorado boy who became ill with an E. coli infection and was hospitalized after eating the bison meat.

National Steak and Poultry recalled 248,000 pounds of beef products—mostly steaks—on December 24, 2009 after a joint investigation between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several state and local health departments identified mechanically tenderized steaks sold by National Steak and Poultry as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The steaks were sold to Moe’s Carino’s Italian Grill, KRM restaurants, Applebee’s, and other restaurants. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) identified 21 victims in 16 states who had eaten steaks produced by National Steak and Poultry and become ill with E. coli O157:H7 during the outbreak. Most victims of the E. coli became ill between mid October and late November. Nine were hospitalized, and one person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. See National Steak and Poultry Mechanically Tenderized Steaks E. coli Outbreak.

Ground beef produced by Fairbank Farms was determined to be the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in October of 2009. A joint public health investigation led by the CDC and state health departments led to the identification of least 28 people from 12 states, mostly from New England states, who had become ill with E. coli infections after consuming the ground beef. Six patients were reportedly hospitalized due to the severity of their E. coli infections, and three developed HUS. Two deaths were associated with the consumption of E. coli-contaminated Fairbank Farms ground beef. The firm recalled 545,699 pounds of fresh ground beef products on Halloween. See Fairbank Farms E. coli Lawsuit.

The Rhode Island Department of Health, Massachusetts Department of Health, USDA, and CDC conducted a joint investigation into an October 2009 E. coli outbreak among sixth grade students and chaperones from Lincoln Middle School in Lincoln, Rhode Island, who had become ill with E. coli infections after visiting Camp Bournedale, in Plymouth, Mass. The joint investigation into the outbreak among Lincoln students and chaperones ultimately resulted in a recall of 1,039 pounds of potentially E. coli-contaminated ground beef produced by South Shore Meats of Brockton, Massachusetts. At least two students were hospitalized during the E. coli outbreak associated with the consumption of hamburgers produced by South shore Meats. See South Shore Meats E. coli Outbreak at Camp Bournedale .

Ground beef is a common source of E. coli outbreaks

Meat produced by Nebraska Beef Co. was determined to be the source of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in both 2006 and 2008. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) investigated the 2006 E. coli outbreak among Longville, Minnesota residents and visitors to the Longville area. MDH traced the E. coli outbreak to the consumption of ground beef products purchased at Tabaka’s Supervalu. Further traceback resulted in the discovery that Tabaka’s had received beef trim from Nebraska Beef and had processed the trim into ground beef. During the traceback investigation, a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was genetically indistinguishable was isolated from patients and from a meat sample at the Nebraska Beef plant. MDH identified 17 E. coli cases associated with the consumption of the ground beef, some of which was served in a spaghetti dinner at a local Longville church. Three people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and one woman died. See Nebraska Beef E. coli Lawsuits (2008).

Public health officials from Michigan, Ohio, and several other states joined with the CDC and USDA’s FSIS to trace the source of the 2008 E. coli outbreak. Epidemiological evidence from Michigan and Ohio indicated that ground beef purchased from Kroger stores was the source of the outbreak early on, and Kroger recalled ground beef from Michigan and Ohio stores for E. coli contamination. As the outbreak investigation progressed, 49 confirmed E. coli cases were linked to the consumption of ground beef; 27 had been hospitalized and one had developed HUS. Nebraska Beef meat sold to Kroger and other retail stores for processing into ground beef was determined to be the source of the E. coli outbreak, and the company recalled 5.3 million pounds of E. coli-contaminated meat that was intended for use in ground beef production. Several weeks later, Nebraska Beef recalled an additional 1.36 million pounds of meat for potential E. coli contamination after as many as 30 E. coli cases tied to Nebraska Beef meat were reported across the country. The meat had been sold to Whole Foods and other retail stores for processing into ground beef. See Nebraska Beef E. coliLawsuits (2006).

In 2007, the Fresno County Department of Community Health (FCDCH) investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among attendees at several events catered by the Meat Market in Fresno, California. Tri-tip had been served at all events, and a leftover food sample from one event tested positive for a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was genetically indistinguishable from that which had been isolated from E. coli outbreak victims. When its outbreak investigation was complete, FCDCH counted 29 confirmed cases and 94 suspect cases linked to the outbreak. See Fresno Meat Market E. coli Lawsuits.

Also in 2007, Topps Meat Company recalled 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties and other ground beef products after an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to the meat produced at a Topps New Jersey facility. The CDC announced that 38 E. coli cases in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were the result of the consumption of Topps brand ground beef products. See Topps Meats E. coli Lawsuits.

Although slaughtering facilities use such measures as trimming, steam/vacuum treatment, and acid sprays to reduce the likelihood of contamination during processing, consumers should assume that all ground beef is contaminated with E. coli, and should follow the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service guidelines for cooking with ground beef products to prevent E. coli infection.

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Immediately clean spills.
  • Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
  • Consumers should only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160° F.
  • Color is NOT a reliable indicator that ground beef or ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.
  • The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill E. coli is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
  • Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

* Laine ES, Scheftel JM, Boxrud DJ, Vought KJ, Danila RN, Elfering KM, Smith KE. Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections associated with nonintact blade-tenderized frozen steaks sold by door-to-door vendors. J Food Prot. 2005 Jun;68(6):1198-202.

  • American Foods Group and Supervalu / Cub Foods E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented five families in E. coli lawsuits against AFT, Supervalu, and Cub Foods after they became ill with E. coli infections in 2000.  The legal claims were resolved.

  • Bauer Meat Company E. coli Litigation

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented a Danielsville Elementary School student from Madison County, Georgia, in an E. coli O157:H7 lawsuit against Bauer Meat Company of Ocala, Florida, after he became ill with an E. coli infection in 1998.  The child’s illness was traced to a school lunch.

  • BJ’s Wholesale Club E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented the families of three children who became ill with E. coli infections after eating ground beef purchased from BJ’s Wholesale Club stores in New York and New Jersey.  Two of the children became ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome.

  • Cargill Hamburger E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark filed four E. coli lawsuits against Cargill after the company recalled 845,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties in September of 2007.  The lawsuits were filed on behalf of residents of Minnesota and Tennessee who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections - and some of them with HUS - after eating hamburgers made from Cargill ground beef patties.  All the cases have been resolved.

  • Carneco and Sam’s Club E. coli Lawsuit

    Marler Clark represented the family of a nine-year-old boy in a lawsuit against Carneco after the company’s Northern Plains ground beef patties sold at Sam’s Club were identified as the source of his E. coli infection.

  • Coco Loco and Tyson E. coli Outbreak

    In April and May 2013 the Brazos County Health Department (BCHD) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) investigated an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that occurred among customers of Coco Loco Restaurant located in College Station, Texas.  Cases were identified through laboratory test results, patient interviews and physician office reports.  A total of 10 persons were counted as outbreak associated cases; five were laboratory confirmed with an indistinguishable genetic strain of E. coli O157:H7 as determined by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).  Four patients were hospitalized.  Three patients developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).  Outbreak associated cases ate at Coco Loco on April 15, April 16 or April 17.  Two patients became ill on April 17. Five patients experienced symptom onset on April 18. The last patient became ill on April 22.  The outbreak was assigned Cluster Identification Number 1305TXEXH-1. 

    Marler Clark has filed suit on behalf of two boys that developed hemolytic uremic sundrome

  • ConAgra Ground Beef E. coli O157:H7 Lawsuits and Litigation

    Marler Clark represented 33 individuals and families of individuals who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after consuming contaminated ConAgra ground beef.  The firm resolved the cases of all clients, including the family of a woman who died after suffering from an E. coli infection, and the families of six children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

  • Emmpak E. coli Lawsuit and Litigation

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented two Wisconsin women who became ill with E. coli infections during the outbreak traced to Emmpak’s ground beef products.  The firm filed an E. coli lawsuit against Emmpak and Cargill in October of 2002; all claims the lawyers brought against Emmpak were resolved in 2003.

  • Excel E. coli Outbreak

    Marler Clark’s E. coli attorneys represented a young Georgia boy who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection and was hospitalized for four days in an E. coli claim against Excel.  The boy’s E. coli infection was one of several that Georgia health officials were able to trace back to the consumption of ground beef produced by Excel.

  • Fairbank Farms E. coli Lawsuit

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers filed a lawsuit against Fairbank Farms on behalf of 12-year-old Andrea Munro, a Marshfield, Massachusetts resident, on November 3, 2009.  On October 31, Fairbank Farms recalled 545,699 pounds of fresh ground beef products for potential E. coli contamination.  Of the 28 people who have become ill with E. coli O157:H7 during this outbreak, 26 became ill between September 17 and October 10, 2009.  Six patients were reportedly hospitalized due to their E. coli infections, and three developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.  Two deaths have been reported to be associated with the outbreak.

  • Finley Elementary School and Northern States Beef E. coli Lawsuits and Litigation

    The Marler Clark law firm represented victims of a 1998 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at Finley Elementary School in South Eastern Washington State.  The firm’s E. coli lawyers filed lawsuits against Northern States Beef and Finley Elementary School, on behalf of nine children who had become ill with E. coli infections after eating contaminated meat served in tacos as part of a school lunch.  The jury verdict in favor of the E. coli victims was upheld on appeal.

  • Flanders E. coli Outbreak Litigation

    Marler Clark represented two young children in E. coli claims against the Flanders Provision Company, whose ground beef patties were identified as the source of an E. coli outbreak and were recalled in 2005.  The children, who were brothers, both developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.  Marler Clark resolved their cases in early 2007.

  • Fresno Meat Market E. coli Lawsuits

    In late May and early June of 2007, Fresno County health officials traced an outbreak of 27 E. coli O157 infections to contaminated tri-tip purchased from The Grill at the Meat Market in Fresno. Marler Clark filed an E. coli lawsuit against the Meat Market on June 25, 2007 on behalf of an 80-year-old man who became ill with E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome after eating tri-tip at a graduation party.  Several of the cases have resolved.  One case is still pending.

  • Interstate Meat Ground Beef E. coli Lawsuit

    Marler Clark E. coli lawyers represent Idaho and Washington residents in claims against Interstate Meats, a Clackamas, Oregon, company that manufactured ground beef products that were identified as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in August of 2007. 

  • Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits and Litigation

    Lawyers now at Marler Clark handled most of the litigation following the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, which resulted in individual and class-action settlements totaling more than $50 million – the largest payments ever involving food-borne illness.  The most severely injured victims of the outbreak were mostly younger children, including four who died.  William Marler represented a nine-year-old Seattle girl who recovered after suffering kidney failure and other complications, including being in a coma for 42 days, and won a $15.6 million settlement from the company.  He also represented over 100 other victims of the outbreak in E. coli claims against Jack in the Box.  Their claims were resolved for undisclosed amounts.

  • JBS Swift E. coli Lawsuit

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers filed a lawsuit against JBS Swift Beef Company on behalf of a New Mexico child who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) after eating kabob prepared with JBS Swift E. coli-contaminated meat on Mother’s Day.  The lawsuit was filed July 6. 

  • Karl Ehmer Meats E. coli Lawsuit and Litigation

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented the parents of a child who died after becoming ill with an E. coli infection and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in July of 2000.  The law firm filed an E. coli lawsuit against the meat producer and retailer.  The family’s case was resolved in 2003.

  • Nebraska Beef E coli Lawsuits (2008)

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represent over a dozen individuals in claims against Nebraska Beef that stem from a 2008 E. coli outbreak.  Nebraska Beef recalled millions of pounds of meat products that had been distributed to restaurants and retail outlets in the summer of 2008 after ground beef made from the meat was determined to be the source of a nationwide E. coli outbreak, with concentrated cases in Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and Massachusetts.

  • Nebraska Beef E. coli Lawsuits (2006)

    In 2006, meat manufactured by Nebraska Beef, distributed by Interstate Meat, and sold by Tabaka’s Supervalu was identified as the source of an E. coli outbreak among residents of and visitors to Longville, Minnesota.  An outbreak investigation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture led to the conclusion that 17 people who had eaten ground beef purchased at Tabaka’s Supervalu and consumed either in private homes or at a dinner prepared at the Salem Lutheran Church in Longville had become ill with E. coli infections.  Three people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and one person died.

  • PM Beef, Lunds & Byerly’s E. coli Outbreak Litigation

    The E. coli lawyers at Marler Clark filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Minnesota woman who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating ground beef produced by PM Beef Holdings and sold at Lunds & Byerly’s. The E. coli lawsuit was filed on June 12, 2003. Marler Clark also represents other Minnesotans who became ill with E. coli infections during the outbreak.

  • Rochester Meat Company E. coli Outbreak Litigation

    E. coli litigation commenced against Rochester Meat Company on March 13, 2008, when Marler Clark filed an E. coli lawsuit on behalf of a Wisconsin family.  The lawsuit stems from an E. coli outbreak traced to the consumption of Rochester Meat ground beef patties served as hamburgers at Tony Roma’s restaurants in Wisconsin and California.

  • Rocky Mountain Natural Meats E. coli outbreak

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented a young boy who suffered an E. coli O157:H7 infection after consuming contaminated ground bison meat manufactured and sold by Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, Inc.  The claim was successfully resolved prior to trial.

  • S & S Foods - Goshen Boy Scout Camp E. coli Lawsuit

    An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in July and August, 2008 at a Boy Scout camp in Goshen Virginia was traced to tainted hamburger meat.  More than 84 people who attended the camp between July 20 and August 2 were infected; at least 8 were hospitalized.  Investigations found that hamburger meat produced and distributed by S & S Foods LLC of Azusa, California contained E. coli O157:H7 that was a genetic match to the illnesses.  As a result, S & S recalled 153,630 pounds of frozen ground beef products.

  • Sizzler E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented over a dozen individuals who became ill with E. coli infections - some with hemolytic uremic syndrome - after eating at two Milwaukee Sizzler restaurants in 1998.  The E. coli lawyers represented victims at trial and on appeal.

  • South Shore Meats E. coli Outbreak at Camp Bournedale E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark filed two lawsuits against Crocetti’s Oakdale Packing, Inc., doing business as South Shore Meats Inc.  The lawsuits were filed on behalf of eleven-year-old middle schoolers from Lincoln, Rhode Island, who became ill with E. coli infections and were hospitalized after returning from a class trip to Camp Bournedale, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. At least 20 students and chaperones from Lincoln Middle School who attended Camp Bournedale became ill with E. coli infections.

  • Stop & Shop E. coli Lawsuit

    The E. coli attorneys at Marler Clark represented a young child in an E. coli case against Stop & Shop after he became ill with an E. coli infection and HUS in 2005.  The case was resolved in 2007.

  • Topps Meat and Price Chopper E. coli Lawsuit

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented the family of an 8-year-old girl who became ill with E. coli and HUS after eating ground beef produced by Topps and sold at Price Chopper near Albany, New York.

  • Topps Meats E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers filed two lawsuits against Topps Meats.  The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of a New York child who was hospitalized for four days after eating a Topps hamburger at a barbecue. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of a mother and child who were both hospitalized - the child with hemolytic uremic syndrome.  One case remains to be resolved.

  • United Food Group E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits and Litigation

    Marler Clark represented victims of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that was traced to consumption of ground beef products sold by United Food Group in the summer of 2007.  The company recalled 5.7 million pounds after illnesses were reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming.  Cases for seven of the nine E. coli outbreak victims Marler Clark represented have been resolved.

  • Whole Foods and Rain Crow Ranch E. coli Outbreak

    Whole Foods Market locations, South Weymouth, Massachusetts and Newton, Massachusetts recalled 368 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced August 15, 2014. Marler Clark represents the family of a young boy who died of complications of an E. coli infection.