Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, Ltd. commend the U. S. Attorney General for the Western District of Michigan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General and the Food Safety Inspection Service in their efforts to hold Sara Lee Corporation and its Bil Mar unit criminally responsible for producing and distributing adulterated meat and poultry products.

On June 22, 2001, at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Joseph Scoville in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Sara Lee pleaded guilty to producing and distributing adulterated meat and poultry products.

As part of the plea agreement, Sara Lee is required to pay a fine of $200,000; has agreed to over $1.2 million in a civil settlement; and will pay $3 million to fund food safety research at Michigan State University.

On December 22, 1998, Sara Lee announced a recall of 35 million pounds of hotdogs and deli meats after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked 101 illnesses and 21 deaths in over 22 states to a strain Listeria monocytogenes found in packages of the Sara Lee meat products. This is the largest recall in United States history.

Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, Ltd. began the fight to hold Sara Lee responsible for these deaths and injuries; to require Sara Lee to establish an end product testing protocol to prevent future outbreaks; and to fully inform the public of the potential hazards of eating these contaminated meat products when, on December 30, 1998, they filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of all persons who consumed hot dogs and other meat products manufactured by SARA LEE and BIL MAR with establishment numbers P261 for poultry and 6911 for non-poultry.

According to the May 27, 1999 report from Paul S. Mead, M.D., M.P.H. of the Foodborne and Diarrheal Disease Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sara Lee company records of routine environmental monitoring revealed that for four months between 67% and 92% of the samples tested from equipment and surfaces were positive for psychrophilic organisms. According to Dr. Mead's report, "studies in other meat processing facilities have found that with further testing 42% of cultures positive for psychrophilic will yield [Listeria monocytogenes]." Listeria monocytogenes is a potentially deadly bacterium.

"Dr. Mead's findings and his report clearly show that Sara Lee's conduct willfully and wantonly disregarded the safety of its customers" said Kenneth Moll. "If Sara Lee had rectified the contamination in its plant and conducted a recall months earlier, dozens of lives could have been saved."

Sara Lee's attorney, Anton Valukus responded to the charges by saying "What happened, happened." Kenneth B. Moll responds by saying "what happened (deaths and injuries to innocent consumers) should never have happened and should never happen again in the future."

After 2 years of litigation, on September 15, 2001, Judge Jennifer Duncan-Brice entered an order approving a settlement agreement reached in the nationwide class action. Over 4,000 claims have been submitted by claimants seeking compensation of up to $50,000 plus medical expenses for claimants who were diagnosed with Listeria. In addition, Sara Lee will donate $25,000 to the Food Research Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, to be used for research on the prevention of Listeria in food products.

In addition to the thousands of claims submitted in the settlement proceedings, over 70 individuals opted out of the settlement to bring individual claims against Sara Lee.