Maple Leaf Foods Settles Listeriosis Outbreak Lawsuits

Canadian food processing company says a proposed payout of up to $27 million to settle several class-action lawsuits over last year's listeriosis outbreak has been accepted.

TORONTO (CP) -- Maple Leaf Foods Inc. says a proposed payout of up to $27 million to settle several class-action lawsuits over last year's listeriosis outbreak has been accepted and is headed to court for final approval.

The food processing company said Monday it will pay up to $125,000 for those with serious and long-lasting physical injuries and $120,000 will go to the estates of those who died as a result of listeriosis symptoms, with "additional substantial amounts" to be paid to immediate family members.

The lawsuits were launched after the Listeria outbreak last year linked to Maple Leaf meat products produced at a Toronto plant. The outbreak killed at least 20 people and triggered the largest meat recall in Canadian history.

"The amount each claimant will receive depends upon the severity of their illness," the company said in a release.

"Claimants may also claim for lost income and certain out-of-pocket expenses."

Under the settlement, those who ate meat products purchased between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2008 will be able to make claims and may be compensated from a $25-million fund, which carries an option for up to $2 million dollars more if that amount is insufficient.

Those who sustained physical symptoms consistent with listeriosis will be eligible to receive compensation starting at $750 for physical symptoms lasting between 24 and less than 48 hours.

Some legal costs will also be paid out of the settlement fund.

The agreement now need approval from courts in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. Hearings are scheduled for March 5 in Ontario, March 10 in Saskatchewan, and March 20 in Quebec.

The company has set up a website for potential claimants at www.mapleleafclaim.com and additional information can be obtained by calling the toll-free number 1-800-801-2521.

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