Fort St. John woman brain-damaged by Listeriosis not joining Maple Leaf Settlement

Arlene Laughren of Fort St. John has filed an objection to the proposed class-action settlement with Maple Leaf Foods.

In July of 2008, Arlene was in the Fort St. John Hospital undergoing treatment for Crohn’s disease when she ate tainted meat.  Doctors stated the medication she was taking for her condition left her vulnerable to infection.  The Listeria bacteria ended up causing two abscesses in her brain.

According to an article in the Vancouver Province, in the objection filed against the proposed class-action settlement, Laughren says Maple Leaf Foods hasn’t provided any details to prove the pool of money will cover everyone injured by the contaminated food.  The $27 million dollar settlement was proposed by Maple Leaf Foods last month.

Laughren did not join the group involved in the settlement proposal.  Courts in three provinces will hear the proposal terms this month.  If the proposal is accepted, Laughren will have to choose if she would use Maple Leaf or accept her own settlement.  Under the current settlement she would receive $125,000 and $750 for each day she was in hospital and any additional money for lost income or expenses.  

The only problem is all the money could be gone before every claim is satisfied, as $27 million is the maximum the company would have to pay out.  If the current proposal is rejected Arlene plans to continue with her own class-action suit and will look for other residents of BC affected by contaminated foods to join her.

Arlene spent over 7 months in hospital.  She was flown to Vancouver for brain surgery to remove one of the abscesses, but the second one was too deep to remove.  Arlene’s current life is extremely different now as she is unable to drive and they live outside of Fort St. John.  The left side of her body is impaired and she can walk, but her balance is off.  Her short-term memory has also been affected.  She doesn’t know if she will ever be able to return to work at North Peace Secondary School.

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