Sindhu Sundar of Law360 reported today “Cargill Wins $9M From Beef Supplier In Tainted Meat Suit.”  According to the article, Cargill Inc., on Monday was awarded a $9 million verdict by a Nebraska federal jury in its dispute with an Omaha, Nebraska-based Greater Omaha Packing Co., that it accused of selling it beef products tainted with E. coli O157:H7 that put Cargill on the hook for $26 million in costs, including victim settlements.  PDF of verdict and judgment.

The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak began in August 2007 and led to the eventual recall of 845,000 pounds of Cargill ground beef. In early October, Minnesota health department officials noticed a cluster of three E. coli O157:H7 cases with the same pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) genetic pattern. Interviews with the case-patients found a common exposure of Cargill hamburger. Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Tennessee also had victims with matching PFGE patterns and exposure to Cargill hamburger. Sam’s Club stores were a major purchaser of the Cargill frozen hamburgers.  The outbreak sickened as many as 54, including Stephanie Smith, who was profiled in the Pulitzer Prize winning article by Michael Moss in the New York Times.

Cargill had settled claims with victims and then proceeded against Greater Omaha.

We are pleased with the jury verdict,” Cargill spokesman Michael Martin said Tuesday. “The jury agreed that Greater Omaha must be responsible for the safety of its beef products. Cargill holds its suppliers accountable to the same standards we apply to beef produced at our plants.”

Cargill did it right – It took responsibility for its product, took care of its customers, and forced accountability up the supply chain