Transcript - Sara Lee Class Action - ABC 7 News - December 31, 1998

Sara Lee Litigation
ABC 7 News
December 31, 1998
5:00p.m.

Ron: New developments this evening involving tainted meat packaged by a company owned by Chicago based Sara Lee. Bacteria in the meat sickened dozens of people and 4 persons died. Kevin Roy is in the newsroom with the latest on the story for us. Kevin

Kevin Roy: Well Ron, there are actually 2 major developments to report on this story tonight. First the Centers for Disease Control said today lab tests had determined that the lysteria bacteria did indeed come from hotdogs made by Bil Mar Foods. That of course is owned by Chicago-based Sara Lee. Second, a man from the Chicago area, one of the victim's, has now filed a class-action lawsuit.

Millions of pounds, millions of dollars worth of Ball Park franks and other Sara Lee coldcuts were pulled from store shelves 9 days ago. Since then, the number of people to become sick from lysteria bacteria after eating the meat has grown to 42 nationwide, including 4 deaths. Now a man from southwest suburban Chicago Ridge, says he, too, has had the flu-like symptoms, has even been hospitalized for lysteriosos and is filing this class-action lawsuit against Sara Lee. Frank Paluch continued to undergo medical testing late today. His Attorney said Paluch was seriously ill for 7 days before getting tested.

Kenneth Moll: Its tough to determine what it is, whether it's the flu or food poisoning. I recommend anybody that ate any of these products get tested. You just don't want it to go to the next stage where it could be deadly.

Kevin Roy: With antibiotics, healthy people usually fight off lysteriosis with no more than flu-like symptoms. But if it progresses it can cause menangitis and kill. Most at risk: pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems. The recalled Sara Lee meat products include the National Ballpark Grillmaster and high-grade brands and are coded either P261 or 6911. The lawsuit alleges Sara Lee and its Bilmar Foods unit in Zeeland, Michigan knew from prior health violations that there were problems at the plant. It seeks compensation for medical expenses and punitive damages and could grow to include hundreds of people.

Kenneth Moll: Everybody that ate this product is part of the class-action. The second part of the purpose of the class-action not only to inform the public, but we want to set up a medical monitoring program so people that did eat it can be tested.

Kevin Roy: Sara Lee voluntarily recalled the hotdogs and coldcuts in question and its plant in Michigan remains shut-down tonight. The recall alone is costing the company 50 million to 70 million dollars. We did try, but could not reach Sara Lee for a response today. Live from the newsroom, Kevin Roy, ABC 7 News. Ron