Under the category, “when it rains it pours,” the meat packing industry took a hard hit – or, was it a stun gun to the head? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports this morning on the “stunning” victory of my friends, Fred Gordon and Ron Pezze, over “big beef” and the lawyers and insurance corporations that protect them.
Meatpacker Excel must pay Sizzler $7.1 million for E. coli outbreak
The Jury of Milwaukee citizens set a strong message to the industry to clean up their sh*&:
A jury Wednesday found that meatpacker Excel Corp. will have to pay Sizzler USA, a national restaurant chain, more than $7.1 million for lost revenue resulting from publicity surrounding the outbreak of a food-borne illness that killed a child and sickened scores of others at restaurants here eight years ago. The jury award brings the cost to Excel to $18.5 million plus lawyer fees.
Here is the kicker:
The jury was told that Excel had not admitted that its meat from its Colorado plant was the source of the deadly bacteria until just weeks before the settlement with the Kriefall family and that E&B had settled to the maximum of its insurance policy years ago.
“What took Excel so long was the fear of facing you,” Fred Gordon, a lawyer for the chain, told the jury.
Gordon and Pezze painted a bleak picture of the operation of the plant where the tainted meat was produced. They pointed to a high annual turnover in employees — 1,200 of the 2,000 — most of them immigrants; that the plant had been cited 17 times in three months for violations; and that some employees “harassed” federal inspectors by following them around.
Gordon noted that every 12 seconds an animal was killed at the plant, and that a retired federal inspector had testified that the plant could be made safe by slowing down the operation.
The jury system works. "Big Beef," see ya in court.