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California teen files lawsuit against Nestle

By Matt Tomsic

Danville News

June 22, 2009

A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Nestle USA for unspecified damages incurred after she ate Toll House cookie dough and was hospitalized with E. coli, according to court documents filed in San Manteo County Superior Court.

Jillian J. Collins, 18, a resident of San Manteo, ate the cookie dough between May 20 and May 22. She fell ill on May 25 with nausea and abdominal cramps and was hospitalized the next day. She remained in the hospital for seven days, the complaint states.

Doctors took a biopsy that tested positive for the strain of E. coli that has been linked to the consumption of the raw cookie dough. A post on the blog of Bill Marler, an attorney representing Collins, said that the 18-year-old had eaten the cookie dough raw. The cookie dough’s label tells consumers to cook the dough before eating it and not to eat it raw.

“Any product that is intended to be consumed cooked, don’t eat it raw,” said Roz O’Hearn on Friday. O’Hearn is a spokeswoman for the company.

Marler works for Marler Clark, a firm that represents victims of food poisoning. According to company’s Web site, he began representing victims in 1993, when he settled Brianne Kiner’s case against Jack in the Box for $15.6 million. Kiner was one of 143 victims who fell ill after eating undercooked burgers from Jack in the box.

The then 10-year-old developed hemolytic urinary syndrome, which can cause kidney failure in children. She spent six months in the hospital.

“He’s one of the big guys,” said Renee Boyer, an assistant professor of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech.

Boyer has studied cases of E. coli found outbreaks linked to consumer foods.

“Nestlé learned today that an attorney representing one of those who became ill from eating raw cookie dough has filed suit against our company,” O’Hearn said. “We haven’t reviewed the suit so can offer no comment on it.”

Nestle recalled the cookie dough Thursday after learning of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found a link between a recent E. coli outbreak and eating the cookie dough raw.

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