Skip to main content

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

  • Author:
  • Updated:

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


Nearly 60 lbs of drugs seized in Rochester, 3 charged

The drugs consisted of cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and marijuana.

Minneapolis skyline

Climate change in Minnesota is clearly seen at night

A lot of warm days and far fewer chilly nights.

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Driver, 83, killed in collision with semi-truck in Northfield

The Northfield man died at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Taco Bell

Impatient driver who fatally struck woman outside Taco Bell sentenced

Tammy Renae Olson was sentenced to four years in prison.


Police: Teens 'careen recklessly' in stolen BMW, Mercedes in north metro

They ended up crashing the stolen vehicles, with two arrested and two others on the run.

fire truck

Fire table sparks blaze at Edina home

The fire remains under investigation, but fire officials believe it was accidental.

money hundred dollar bills

Charges: California woman embezzled over $1M from MN employer

Mai Xiong faces several federal charges in the case.

Hsa Law Yaw Say

Shot woman who sparked appeal found injured at Twin Cities hotel

Authorities began searching for Hsa Say early Monday morning.


Development may bring changes to Stonebrooke Golf Club in 2023

The popular southwest metro golf course offers scenic views of O'Dowd Lake.


Homeowners alert DNR to grouse hunting complaints in Northland

Some hunters are allegedly shooting directly in front of houses.


Charges: Teen couple tortured children while babysitting in St. Paul

A doctor called this "the worst case of abuse he has seen in over 20 years."


New apartment proposal could spell the end for Myth Live

Myth Live in Maplewood has a spotty past with the surrounding community.