Bill Marler

Food Safety Advocate & Food Poisoning Attorney

Thomas Kruc - The 2002 ConAgra Ground Beef E. coli Outbreak

In June of 2002, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the recall of 354,000 pounds of ConAgra ground beef for contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The following month, the recall was expanded to include a staggering 18.6 million more pounds of ground beef, the second largest recall in U.S. history.

In the weeks leading up to and following the recall, 45 people in 23 states became ill with E. coli infections after eating the ground beef, which was manufactured at the ConAgra plant in Greeley, CO.

Marler Clark represented 23 of these victims, many of whom suffered from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli O157:H7 infection that can lead to kidney failure and serious neurological impairment.

One such outbreak victim was Thomas Kruc, a nine-year-old boy who, at the time of infection, was living with a foster family that would eventually adopt him as a son. On June 22, Thomas’ mother, Rebecca, made a family spaghetti dinner out of the contaminated ConAgra ground beef. Five days later, Thomas became so ill from vomiting that he was admitted to the hospital, where he developed HUS and had to be put on dialysis. He also experienced small seizures at night. Thomas’ health problems did not end with his release from the hospital. Not only did his experience with HUS put him at severe risk of future kidney failure and a shortened life span, but his previous mental health problems, a result of mistreatment as a child, worsened significantly.

Marler Clark was able to secure a settlement on Thomas’s behalf, in addition to resolving the other 22 cases from the outbreak. These cases included Thomas’ brother, Stephen, who experienced a lesser form of illness from the E. coli contamination.

To read more about the 2002 ConAgra E. coli outbreak and resulting lawsuits, visit the Marler Clark Website.


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