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Supreme Court Ruling Upholds Court of Appeals Decision

Allows Wisconsin citizens to sue when injured by adulterated meat

MILWAUKEE, WI (September 15, 2003) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court today issued a ruling that upholds an earlier Court of Appeals decision holding that meat supplier Excel can be found liable under state law for supplying adulterated meat to Milwaukee Sizzler restaurants. Lawsuits filed against Excel had alleged that the meat Excel sold caused a widespread outbreak E. coli O157:H7 infections and the death of three-year-old Brianna Kriefall in 2000. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its successful representation of victims of foodborne illness, and Fox, O’Neill & Shannon, a respected Milwaukee law firm, represented named plaintiff Ervin Lesak among others, including three children who suffered from hemolytic uremic syndrome “HUS” in lawsuits against both Excel and Sizzler.

Excel had won an earlier motion for summary judgment in which the trial court agreed with Excel’s argument that it could not be held liable for injuries sustained by plaintiffs because it was shielded from liability by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). But the court of appeals ruled that Excel could be held accountable under state law to those who were injured by its meat products. And rather than being safeguarded by the FMIA, the court of appeals said that the statute was intended to protect the public, not meat companies. Summarizing its ruling, the Court stated “that federal preemption does not close the doors of Wisconsin's courts to claims against Excel.”

Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Upholds Court of Appeals decision allowing Wisconsin citizens to sue when injured by adulterated meat on the Marler Clark website.

More on this outbreak: Sizzler E. coli Outbreak

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