Lawsuits begin in connection to salmonella-tainted turkey
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First, there was the contaminated frozen and fresh turkey. Then, scores of people got sick.
Now, here come the lawyers.
An Oregon family has filed a lawsuit against a division of the giant meat processor Cargill Inc., saying their toddler daughter was hospitalized after eating turkey contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg, a strain resistant to many antibiotics.
This month, the company recalled 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products potentially contaminated with a strain of Salmonella connected to one death in Sacramento County. As of Aug. 11, 107 have been infected by the strain and fallen in in 31 states.
The recall is one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.
According to the complaint, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, Ruby Jane Lee was only 10 months old in June when she ate spaghetti and meatballs that her father had made. Her dad, Brandon Mullen-Bagby, had used ground turkey produced by Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.
“During the first week of June, Ruby developed diarrhea,” according to the complaint. “Her diarrhea got worse, requiring as many as 20 diaper changes in a day. On June 10, when Ruby’s fever spiked to 102.5°, her mother, Melissa Lee, rushed Ruby to urgent care at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas, Oregon. The doctors prescribed Tylenol.”
The child was later hospitalized for seven days. She was discharged from the hospital and is continuing to recover at home.
‘Since 1993, Cargill has been the source of contaminated meat implicated in at least 10 major outbreaks, 10 deaths, three stillbirths and 366 illnesses,’ said William Marler, the Lee’s attorney, who specializes in food-safety litigation. ‘If a car manufacturer had the same numbers on an ongoing defect, what would we say? What if was an airline?’
Federal health officials have warned the public that they should check the frozen turkey they have in their freezers, as it may be part of the recall. Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain and can be fatal to young children, older people and those with compromised immune systems.
The turkey was sold under a number of brand names, including Honeysuckle White, Giant Eagle, Safeway Fresh. A list of the brand names and other information can be found here.
Photo: A truckload of live turkeys arrives at the Cargill turkey processing plant in Springdale, Ark., in August. Credit: AP Photo / Danny Johnston