Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Marler Clark to Cargill: Start Testing and We Won’t Sue You

Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated solely to representing victims of foodborne illness, is making a unique offer to Minneapolis-based Cargill, Inc., the company whose ground turkey has been identified as the source of a national outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella called Salmonella Heidelberg.  This week, Cargill recalled 36,000,000 pounds of potentially tainted meat dating back to February 2011 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked it to at least 77 illnesses and one death.

The law firm, which represents over two dozen victims around the country who became ill with Salmonella after eating Cargill ground turkey products, has called on Cargill to immediately initiate testing for antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella, such as Salmonella Heidelberg, Salmonella Newport, Salmonella Hadar and Salmonella Typhimurium.  In exchange, Marler Clark will refrain from filing lawsuits and, instead, commit to working out private, amicable solutions for its clients with the company.

“We still intend to ensure that our clients’ medical bills, wage loss and damages are fully covered,” said Marler Clark attorney William Marler. “However, we’ve been at this long enough to where we’d like to see our efforts give peace of mind to both our clients and American consumers as a whole.”

Marler Clark, which has won over $600 million in settlements and judgments for food poisoning victims in the past 20 years, is no stranger to Cargill, having represented victims in multiple outbreaks tied to the food giant, including the E. coli O157:H7 case of Stephanie Smith, who was profiled in the New York Times and won the paper a Pulitzer.

“There have been plenty of chances for Cargill to commit to food safety.  After all, this outbreak marks the fourth antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak for the company since 2002,” added Marler. “I’ll give Cargill until next Wednesday to publicly commit to a testing program and divert any contaminated product.  This isn’t the first time Cargill has found itself in this situation, but for the sake of us all, perhaps it can be the last.”

Cargill’s numerous manufacturing facilities produce meat products that are consumed by millions of Americans daily.   “As this outbreak continues to unfold and people learn more about Cargill’s staggering reach, a public commitment like this could really restore confidence in American consumers,” Marler concluded.

  • Sam

    Way to go Bill! Great idea, and I honestly hope you don’t have to sue them. Have a great weekend.

  • Carl Custer

    Just testing isn’t enough.
    They’ve got to address antibiotic use in grow out and implement salmonellal controls in hatcheries & grow out. ARS did the work in the last century. Pomeroy accomplished Salmonella-free turkeys in the late 70’s. Bug me for papers.

  • Bix

    Maybe testing could cause producers to reevaluate how their product is raised and processed.

  • David

    Would it be possible for USDA to require irradiation of all uncooked ground meat and ground poultry produced in lots of more 10,000 pounds? Wouldn’t that do more to protect health than trying to find pathogens in random samples? I agree that irradiation is no substitute for sanitary production practices.

  • Are there a special test for detection of this antibiotic resistent Salmonella strains? The traditional method or any rapid test AOAC-Aproved would be capable to detect them? What do you think? Regards

  • Ted

    USDA tests Cargill’s meat now — and even though the tests show the meat is laced with a CAFO industry-created anti-biotic resistant salmonella, the meat legally gets sold to consumers until people start to get hurt and die.
    And after three strikes — “After all, this outbreak marks the fourth antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak for the company since 2002,” added Marler” –Cargill isn’t out — and now there’s an offer of a wrist-slap for the 4th major contamination outbreak??
    I’d think this wave of salmonella-affected consumers — and all the consumers who stand a likelihood of purchasing contaminated food in the future under these spurious industry-friendly rules would deserve a lawsuit push for punitory damages to the max… and jail time for the corporate executives…

  • Anna Smith

    I just heard about this. I eat Honeysuckle 93/7 ground turkey almost every day. Of course, i am always careful to cook it properly, but there have been several times in the last few months that I have had stomach flu. I am now wondering if this is why. I also had a time that I had a fever for several weeks on and off. I also do have a package of the recalled turkey in my fridge right now. And, a couple of months ago, I had to return a package to the store because it had turned a terrible grey color several days before its expiration date. I don’t understand why they are not required to do random testing. Honeysuckle had better find someone else to buy their turkey from, or I will have to find another source, because it appears that Cargill doesn’t really care about safety.