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RADNOR, Pa. and BALTIMORE -- Law firms Schiffrin Barroway Topaz & Kessler, LLP, and Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC yesterday filed the first nationwide class action against Topps Meat Co., LLC; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Pathmark Stores, Inc.; Wakefern Food Corp. d/b/a ShopRite; and Rastelli Fine Foods, Ltd. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on behalf of all consumers who bought and consumed Topps ground beef products contaminated with E. coli, and suffered personal injuries as a result.
The two law firms said they are working as a joint venture on the case.
"This class action was filed to protect the rights of all victims that have been wronged by the carelessness of the manufacturer, suppliers, and distributors of the contaminated ground beef products," said Schiffrin Barroway Topaz & Kessler, LLP partner Tobias L. Millrood in a statement. "These defendant corporations must be held accountable for not protecting basic food, health, and safety."
Of the co-defendants contacted by Progressive Grocer, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sharon Weber said that the company couldn't comment before having seen the complaint, and Pathmark spokesman Rich Savner responded that the retailer didn't comment on potential, ongoing, or pending litigation. A spokeswoman at Rastelli said she was unaware of the suit. Topps and Wakefern were unavailable for comment.
On Sept. 29 Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps expanded its initial Sept. 25 recall to include a total of 21.7 million pounds of frozen ground beef products distributed to retail grocery stores and foodservice institutions across the country. The expansion came one day after the USDA suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps plant after inspectors found inadequate safety measures.
The recall now encompasses frozen ground beef products sold under the brand names Butcher's Best, Kohler Foods, Mike's, Pathmark, Rastelli's Fine Foods, Roma-Topps, Sam's Choice, Sand Castle Fine Meat, Shop Rite, Topps, and West Side.
The Centers for Disease Control has reported that up to 25 people in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania may have become ill after eating hamburgers possibly contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Three cases -- two in New York and one in Florida -- have been confirmed as being linked to the ground beef, with the other 22 cases still under investigation.