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Companies settle suits over 3 spinach deaths

SHARE Companies settle suits over 3 spinach deaths

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — The companies that grew, processed and marketed contaminated spinach that led to a nationwide E. coli outbreak last year have settled lawsuits in the deaths of three women.

The attorney for the families of Ruby Trautz, 81, of Bellevue, Neb., Betty Howard, 83, of Richland, Wash., and June Dunning, 86, of Hagerstown, Md., said the women died after eating fresh spinach bagged under the Dole label.

"They just didn't die immediately after eating it, but they got sick," said attorney Bill Marler. "But there's no question that it came from Dole baby spinach, or else there wouldn't have been a settlement."

Federal officials announced a massive recall of bagged fresh spinach last September, as nearly 200 people were sickened after eating the leafy greens processed by Natural Selections LLC under a number of labels, including Dole. Inspectors eventually traced the E. coli strain to cattle or wild pig feces found in the San Benito County spinach fields of Mission Organics, which grew the spinach.

Terms of the settlements were not disclosed.