Minn. Woman Sues After Contracting E. Coli from Tainted Beef

A Minnesota woman who became ill and was hospitalized after eating beef linked to an E. coli outbreak has sued the companies that produced and sold the meat, claiming they acted with negligence.

An attorney for Anne Herwig filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, June 13, against meat producer PM Beef Holdings LLC and retailer Lund Food Holdings Inc. The lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court seeks undisclosed damages for Herwig’s pain and suffering, medical expenses and emotional distress.

Herwig is one of seven Minnesotans infected with E. coli bacteria this spring, leading PM Beef to voluntarily recall 117,500 pounds of beef trim products that were sent to distributors and retailers in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the beef trim was produced March 27 and turned into ground beef sold under many different retail brand names. In Minnesota, officials have said it was ground at the stores where it was sold _ Byerly’s and Lunds.

William Marler, Herwig’s attorney, said in a statement that “meat suppliers must keep their focus on preventing contamination from happening.”

According to the lawsuit, Herwig purchased ground beef April 18 and ate it the next day. Five days later, she became ill with symptoms of E. coli, including bloody diarrhea. She was hospitalized twice between April 25 and April 30 and has yet to make a full recovery, the complaint says.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps that may be severe and diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days. E. coli can sometimes lead to complications including kidney failure.

A message left Wednesday at PM Beef, which has a plant in Windom, was not immediately returned. Company spokesman John Hagerla has said that no E. coli was found inside the PM Beef facility.

Aaron Sorenson, a spokesman for Lund Food Holdings, said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but “government agencies have indicated that any alleged contamination was not caused by our stores and did not originate in our stores.”