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Court Dismisses E. Coli Liability Case against Boy Scouts

Posted on in Food Poisoning

A ruling in federal court this week declared that the Boy Scouts of America would not be held responsible for an outbreak of E. coli which affected a Virginia scout camp back in 2008. In his decision to dismiss the case against the youth organization, U.S. District Judge Norman Moon indicated that there was no gross negligence on the part of scout leaders, but that the litigation against the food supplier could move forward.

The lawsuit stems from a food poisoning outbreak which sickened 84 scouts at a summer camp in 2008. The illnesses were traced to ground beef contaminated with E. coli bacteria that was ultimately consumed undercooked. Despite having prepared his own meal using the contaminated beef, the plaintiff in the case was seeking $15 million in damages for negligence from the food supplier, the local Boy Scout Council, and the Boy Scouts of America.

In addition to the obvious issue of distribution of contaminated food, the suit claimed that scout leaders did not provide proper instruction or supervision to campers in the preparation and cooking of the meat. The local council, however, routinely provides campers and leaders with guidance materials on food safety, including specific instructions for the type of meal involved. The court's decision was based on Virginia's definition of gross negligence, which requires actions that disregard the safety of others to a degree that “would shock fair minded people.” The ruling indemnified both the local council and the national scout organization from further action in the case.

The food supplier also filed its own motion for dismissal this week, claiming that tests indicated that E. coli contamination was only present in open packages of beef at the camp. All proper safety procedures were followed during the distribution process, the company maintains, and there is no evidence that E. coli contamination originated in at the factory. The outcome of the action against the supplier has yet to be determined.

E. coli and other foodborne pathogens can cause serious illnesses and, in some cases, may even be fatal. Food poisoning as a result of negligent manufacturing processes or improper preparation practices could result in liability damages against any party found negligent. If you have been a victim of any type of foodborne illness, and would like to learn more about how to pursue a liability case, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today for your free initial consultation.

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