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COLIN MCCONNELL/TORONTO STAR
Production was shut down at Maple Leaf's plant on Bartor Road in north Toronto after contaminated meat was discovered.

Lawsuits filed over tainted meat

August 26, 2008

Dana Flavelle

BUSINESS REPORTER

Maple Leaf Foods was named today in four separate class-action lawsuits filed in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. All four were filed by the class-action specialty law firm, Merchant Law Group LLP, of Alberta.

In each case, representative plaintiffs are named.

The suit in Ontario claims $350 million in damages. The other suits do not cite specific dollar amounts.

The Merchant firm said it planned to file more suits against the food processing company in other provinces later this week.

The suit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice today is claiming damages of $350 million on behalf of plaintiffs Arthur Cole and Donna Hyland. No details of their circumstances were immediately available.

In Quebec, a class action lawsuit was filed today in Superior Court naming as representative plaintiffs Juanita Melvin and Thomas Guay, a married couple living in Montreal.

Between Aug. 10 and 16, the couple bought and ate Maple Leaf brand sliced turkey and ham from a Loblaws store. Around Aug. 14, Melvin began experiencing nausea and diarrhea and was ill for several hours.

Guay experienced a fever and cold sweats between Aug. 11 and 15, and on Aug. 16 lost his motor functions and had difficulty articulating words. He was hospitalized and underwent several tests.

In Saskatchewan, in the Court of Queen's Bench, the statement of claim names three plaintiffs: Janine Bellegard; Michelle Whelan; and Nat Dvernichuk.

Janine Bellegard, of Regina, Sask., is a social work student at the University of Regina and the mother of two young children.

According to the statement of claim, Bellegard bought Maple Leaf sliced turkey from an Extra Foods store in Regina in early August. She was the only member of her family to consume sandwiches made from the product, the claim says. She consumed the food on Aug. 21 and within hours fell ill with vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, nausea, shivers and cold sweats, the claim says. Her doctor prescribed Nucephalex, a common anti-biotic used to treat stomach problems, the claim says.

Michelle Whelan, of Estevan, Sask., is a 37-year-old woman who suffers from a weak immune system. She consumed a Boston Pizza roast beef and other Maple Leaf foods products, including sliced meats purchased at Sobeys under the brand names Schneiders and Maple Leaf.

The plaintiff became "incredibly ill" immediately after the meal at Boston Pizza, starting on Aug. 8, and was bedridden for a period of three or four days, according to the claim. She suffered symptoms consistent with listeria poisoning including cramping, diarrhea, severe muscle aches, and fever.

Nat Dvernichuk bought Schneiders Deli Shaved Smoked Turkey Breast from a local Safeway supermarket, the claim says.

He became very ill with symptoms consistent with listeria poisoning, including stomach cramps, muscle aches and diarrhea, the claim says.

In British Columbia, a suit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court naming as representative plaintiff Leanne Murrell. No details of her case were given.

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