WASHINGTON – The remaining defendants in a lawsuit launched by The Humane Society of the United States agreed to pay more than $3 million in a final settlement in a case that triggered the largest beef recall in United States history.
The principal owners and investors of former beef processor Westland-Hallmark agreed to forfeit virtually all their remaining assets for a total settlement of $3,116,802. Chino, Calif.-based Hallmark Meat Packing Co. was a federal contractor to the National School Lunch program. The company signed contracts agreeing to provide humane treatment to animals sent to its facilities. But an investigation launched by the HSUS uncovered abuses of downed cattle. HSUS filed a civil suit against the company in 2009 under the False Claims Act, alleging the company lied about meeting the terms of its contracts with the federal government.
In November 2012, a final judgment of $497,000,000 was entered against Hallmark. The settlement was largely symbolic because the company went bankrupt. Donald Hallmark, Sr. and Donald Hallmark, Jr. agreed to make structured payments over the next five years totaling $316,802.
A final settlement of $155,684,827 also will be entered against Westland Meat Packing Company. That settlement can't be paid due to lack of assets.