Donna Gehrke-White reports:
A Seattle law firm is giving $10,000 to West Broward High to set up a scholarship fund in honor of a student they represented who became gravely ill during a national E. coli outbreak. Samantha Safranek graduated from West Broward in the spring after recovering from the severe food poisoning she got in 2007, said attorney David Babcock of the Marler Clark law firm.
Safranek was one of 38 confirmed cases in eight states, including Florida, where people became ill from eating contaminated hamburger patties, the attorney said. His client became especially sick, because the E. coli she got – O157: H7 – comes from cattle and is particularly dangerous for children and teenagers, he said. “The bacteria release a toxin in your system and attacks vital organs, most specifically the kidneys,’’ Babcock said.
Ultimately, more than 21 million pounds of potentially contaminated hamburger were recalled by a New Jersey-based company, Topps Meat, in the summer of 2007. “They sold to national grocery chains across the country,’’ Babcock said. It was the second largest meat recall in the nation’s history. Topps Meat eventually went bankrupt, Babcock said.
His law firm, which only works on food safety cases, wanted to honor her courage and decided to give $10,000 for a scholarship to be awarded over five years in $2,000 increments to West Broward graduates. Lawyers hope recipients will study food safety issues in college, Babcock said. West Broward High expects to give the first scholarship at Senior Awards night, scheduled for May 18, according to guidance counselor Lisa Albee.