The family of Robert Danell, a Minnesota man with Down syndrome who died in 2010 after eating E. coli contaminated beef, has filed a lawsuit against three beef companies and several retailers.
Danell’s story had first been told through several publications in The Kansas City Star in a series called “Beef’s Raw Edges.” The series reported that Danell, 62, died after consuming beef involved in an E. coli outbreak linked to mechanically-tenderized steaks and ground beef that caused the illnesses of 25 people in 17 states.
The series stated that Minnesota health officials traced the contamination back to a plant in Kansas and the source of the contamination ultimately came from a slaughter plant in Colorado. However, federal officials said they could never officially pinpoint the specific source of ground beef that killed Danell. He was hospitalized on January 9, 2010, suffering from bloody diarrhea and died ten days later due to kidney failure.
Danell’s family told the Star that they had been unclear about what had happened to Robert until the series ran in the Star, which urged them to contact an attorney.
The lawsuit, which was filed on January 8, has named JBS USA, Tyson Fresh Meats, and Beef Products Inc., a company that makes a lean additive for hamburger meat and is sometimes referred to as “pink slime.”
The lawsuit alleges that JBS USA supplied meat to BPI that was used in hamburger meat sold to Tyson. This was ultimately the product Danell consumed in 2009. The lawsuit also alleges that BPI was the manufacturer of the component of ground beef that caused Danell’s E. coli and ultimately, his death.
BPI’s founder, Eldon Roth, made a statement on the lawsuit, claiming that the lawsuit lacked merit and that further investigation would be made on the case in order to defend the company and its reputation.