Transcript - Sara Lee Class Action - News Hour with Jim Lehrer - May 26, 1999

Sara Lee Litigation
News Hour With Jim Lehrer
May 26, 1999

Elizabeth Bracket of WTTW Chicago has the bacteria story.

Elizabeth Bracket: Last winter Jack Kenard of Memphis watched his wife die from the lysteria bacteria.

Jack: I've never heard of lysteria. We had no idea what it was, until the doctor came and told us that it was caused by eating meat products, cheese, and dairy.

Elizabeth Bracket: Kenard was one of 21 people who died last winter from the country's deadliest lysteria outbreak. 100 others became ill.

Dr. Robert Tauxe, CDC: Our power in our investigations come when we find that there is a repeat offender, if you will, that there is an infection that is caused by the same strain in a number of different people. Then we say "ah-ha", there must be something in common amongst all these people.

Elizabeth Bracket: After a common strain was found, survivors were interviewed for a common source, which turned out to be the Ballpark hotdog. A recall was issued and the plant stopped producing the frankfurters. A lawsuit filed with Attorney Kenneth Moll alleging that the conditions of the plant in Michigan were to blame.

Kenneth Moll: It was clear, one part of the plant was unlike the other side of the plant. It was like night and day. It looked almost like a storage room or a garage, but it was totally different than the rest of the plant. That's where they made the Ballpark franks, the hotdog part of the plant. There were, the ceilings were too low. There were shared airways. Right near the hotdog plant is what's called the inedible pit and all the bad meat, the outdated meat, meat that fell on the ground, meat that was moldy or came in as old meat. That same room shared the same airways as the room where they packaged the meat.