Skip to main content

Lawsuit: Minn. man's death linked to 'pink slime' tainted with E. coli


The family of a St. Cloud man who died of kidney failure shortly after eating ground beef is suing a South Dakota-based manufacturer, Beef Products, Inc., and seven other companies.

The New York Daily News reports 62-year-old Robert Danell was one of 25 people in 17 states sickened in a 2009 E. coli outbreak.

Danell had Down Syndrome and attended a day program at Opportunity Manor Group Home in St. Cloud where he ate a hamburger and Swedish meatballs shortly before he became ill in Dec. 2009. Both meals included beef from Tyson Foods that contained BPI's "lean finely textured beef” or ammonia-treated beef scraps known as "pink slime."

After enduring massive damage to his internal organs, Danell died at St. Cloud Hospital on Jan. 19, 2010.

According to the lawsuit, Minnesota Department of Health records show a Greeley, Colo. slaughter house operated by JBS Swift & Company sold beef trim to BPI.

BPI then processed the scraps into "lean finely textured beef” that is sprayed with ammonia to try to kill pathogens like E. coli and salmonella.

Molecular tests were able to link the E. coli strain that sickened people back to JBS.

Bill Marler of Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm that represents victims of foodborne illness, tells New York Daily News that he is "99.99 percent sure" that Danell's death was linked to the beef scraps BPI sold to Tyson.

The suit lists BPI, JBS, Tyson and and a handful of other companies. Marler tells KMEG that the lawsuit isn't targeting just BPI, but the entire chain of distribution.

BPI representatives say the case "lacks merit" and the company will aggressively defend against such action.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Tyson said, "We do not believe our beef operations were the source of the illness that led to Mr. Danell's unfortunate death. In fact, Minnesota state health officials reported they were not able to conclusively determine the ultimate source."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Cure to Vikings' disrupted season lies in an explosive passing game

The Vikings go to San Francisco knowing that a win would be a huge boost to their playoff hopes.

unsplash football helmet ground

Judge upholds star QBs suspension for state championship game

Sam Backer, of Chatfield Senior High, won't be allowed to play in Friday's title game.

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 7.53.37 AM

Another 5,000 lbs. of goldfish removed from Carver County lakes

It all likely stemmed from people dumping their pets into local waters a few years ago.

Rosaleia Shelton

Appeal to find 19-year-old missing from Bloomington

The teen left her home on Monday afternoon.

hospital, emergency room

Deaths of twin fetuses after woman was shot ruled a double homicide

The woman was shot in the abdomen in mid-September.

Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Gophers improve to 5-0 with win over Jacksonville

The Gophers are establishing momentum early in the season.


Lettuce tainted with E. coli sickens 2 in Minnesota

At least two Minnesotans were hospitalized after eating romaine lettuce tainted with E. coli. At least 60 people were sickened nationwide. Two suffered kidney failure.