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E. coli Suit Plaintiffs Get $1,400

February 2, 2001

TORONTO (AP) _ Residents of the southern Ontario town where E. coli bacteria killed seven people and sickened thousands would get at least $1,400 each under a tentative resolution to a class-action lawsuit.

The proposal announced Thursday still requires court approval, and anyone unhappy with the deal could drop out.

If accepted, the agreement would eliminate the need for a lengthy court battle over responsibility for the E. coli contamination last May in the water supply in Walkerton, a town of 5,000 people located 90 miles west of Toronto.

Flooding that washed cattle manure into town wells is considered the source of the bacteria. A government-ordered public inquiry of the contamination revealed chronic problems at the town water utility.

Under the tentative agreement, people who suffered serious illness or the death of relative could seek amounts larger than the $1,400.

``Nothing can compensate the people of Walkerton for the pain they have suffered,″ Ontario Attorney General Jim Flaherty said. ``But the government has been committed from the beginning to helping the victims of this tragedy rebuild their lives.″

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