Canada meatpacker settles class action suit over bacteria tainting that killed 20

[JURIST] Canadian meat producer Maple Leaf Foods [corporate website] announced Monday that it had reached a proposed settlement agreement [notice of proposed settlement, PDF] with class action plaintiffs who brought suit against the company [class action website] in connection with sales of meat tainted with listeria monocytogenes [CDC backgrounder], which sickened 56 Canadians and caused 20 deaths across the country in 2008. Under the proposed settlement, Maple Leaf Foods will pay between $25-$27 million to settle the claims of class members who submit to the settlement agreement:

The Settlement provides for the creation of a $25 million (CDN) settlement fund (Settlement Fund) from which eligible consumers and/or their family members may receive varying levels of compensation. Notice costs, administration costs, and class counsel fees and disbursements as more particularly described below will also be paid out of the Settlement Fund. The Defendants will also pay up to a further $2 million (CDN) if the Settlement Fund is insufficient to fully compensate all eligible claims. The amount each claimant will receive depends upon the severity of their illness. For claimants who sustained physical symptoms consistent with Listeriosis, the compensation ranges from $750 (for physical symptoms lasting between 24-48 hours) up to $125,000 (for serious and long lasting physical injuries). The estates of Class Members who died as a result of symptoms consistent with Listeriosis will be paid $120,000, plus additional substantial amounts to immediate family members.
The proposed settlement agreement must be approved by Canadian courts in several provinces. Hearings on the proposed settlement will be held [CBC report] on March 5 in Ontario, March 10 in Saskatchewan, and March 20 in Quebec.

Last year's outbreak of listeriosis was traced [PHAC press release] to a Maple Leaf Foods processing plant near Toronto, Ontario. The plant was shut down in August [Vancouver Sun report], and is now running at limited production levels. The bacterial infection was spread through several products, which were promptly recalled [recall list, PDF] by the company. In response to the listeriosis outbreak, Maple Leaf Foods developed an action plan to ensure the ongoing safety of its products, including so-called "enhanced food safety protocols" [text].

 

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