Whole Foods Settles Tainted Ground Beef Claims

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By Steven M. Sellers

Sept. 21 — Whole Foods and its ground beef suppliers have agreed to settle claims by the parents of a young boy fatally sickened in 2014 by ground beef tainted with E. coli bacteria, according to court records ( Kaye v. Rain Crow Ranch, LLC , D. Mass., No. 14-cv-14408, settlement reported 9/19/16 ).

Lawyers in the personal injury case reported the settlement at a Sept. 19 status conference in the District of Massachusetts, according to an online docket entry.

The settlement doesn’t include third-party claims made by Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. against its meat supplier, Missouri-based Rain Crow Ranch LLC and other associated companies, which will “continue on,” according to the records.

William Marler of Marler Clark in Seattle, who is co-counsel for plaintiffs Andrew and Melissa Kaye, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 21 “the parties agreed to resolve the matter.” He declined to comment on the terms of the settlement.

Whole Foods and Rain Crow Ranch didn’t respond to requests for comment sent to counsel Sept. 21.

The complaint alleges the boy became sick after eating grass-fed beef his parents purchased in 2014 at a Whole Foods store in South Weymouth, Mass. He was hospitalized and died 10 days later, the complaint states.

The ground beef, which was allegedly contaminated with a dangerous strain of the bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7, was supplied to Whole Foods by Rain Crow Ranch, based in Doniphan, Mo., according to the complaint.

Whole Foods voluntarily recalled 368 pounds of the beef product in August 2014 after three reports of sickness were traced to beef products purchased from its South Weymouth store and another store in Newton, Mass.

In January, Whole Foods filed the third-party complaint against Rain Crow’s associated companies Rain Crow LLC, Rain Crow Grass Fed LLC, Fruitland LLC and American Grass Fed Beef LLC.

That complaint, which isn’t involved in the settlement, alleges the meat suppliers are obligated to indemnify Whole Foods for any damages arising from the Kayes’ complaint.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers at sSellers@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com; Nicholas Datlowe at nDatlowe@bna.com

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