Local growers settle in E. coli case

Rows of spinach.

A trio of local companies settled a multi-million-dollar lawsuit
this week with a Utah woman who nearly died after eating spinach
tainted with E. coli.
A trio of local companies settled a multi-million-dollar lawsuit this week with a Utah woman who nearly died after eating spinach tainted with E. coli.

The agreement, details of which were not made public, came while jurors were deliberating during a five-day trial in a case brought by Chelsey Macey against Dole Food Co., San Juan Bautista-based Natural Selection Foods and Mission Organics of Salinas.

KSL-TV in Salt Lake City reported that Macey, a 26-year-old married mother of three, became deathly ill after eating Dole pre-washed baby spinach in 2006 and then developed a sever case of irritable bowl syndrome. Her attorneys claim that the condition rendered her permanently disabled.

Macey’s lawyers asked the jury to award at least $10 million, including $5 million for past medical and future medical expenses and pain and future lost wages, and $5 million for pain and suffering. The lawsuit was filed in 2008.

Dole and the other companies accepted liability for the contaminated spinach before the trial and agreed to compensate Macey for damages, KSL reported. The question in the trial was how much compensation she would receive.

Seattle-based food safety attorney Bill Marler told The Packer website that more than 205 people were sickened and up to five people died after the E. coli outbreak that was spread through prepackaged spinach processed at Natural Selection Foods.

A report released by state and federal health officials in March 2007 said traces of the deadly E. coli strain were found on Paicines Ranch near land leased to Mission Organics.

Leave your comments