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$500 Million Settlement for Hallmark Meat Co. in Abuse Case

WASHINGTON — A landmark $500 million settlement has been reached against a meat packing company found to have abused its animals, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

In 2008, an undercover video showed Hallmark Meat Packing Co. abusing “downer cows” — those too sick or weak to walk — on the way to slaughter, according to the Wall Street Journal. A recall of the tainted meat was the largest in U.S. history and cost $150 million in taxpayer funds. The company was one of the largest suppliers of meat for school lunches.

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The $497 million fine against Hallmark is the largest ever in an animal abuse case, according to the HSUS. As Hallmark is bankrupt, the company is unable to pay the full amount, but it is hoped the settlement will act as a deterrent against abuse by other companies.

"The meat industry should take notice that if they defraud federal agencies and the American taxpayers by abusing animals, there will be serious consequences for their inhumane and reckless actions," Jonathan R. Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the HSUS, said in a statement.

Two of the nine defendants in the case, Donald Hallmark Sr. and Donald Hallmark Jr., have agreed to pay $316,802 and will cooperate in the prosecution of the remaining defendants.

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