Couple Sues Odwalla Over Child's Illness

SEATTLE - A West Seattle couple yesterday filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court against Odwalla over their 4-year-old daughter's infection in October with E. coli bacteria, allegedly as a result of drinking apple juice.

The victim, Brooke Hiatt, was in the hospital for eight days last October.

Bill Marler, attorney for Charles and Kathleen Hiatt, said the case would be consolidated with an earlier suit also filed by Marler involving 2-year-old Michael Beverly of Issaquah, who was in critical condition for two weeks in October after drinking the apple juice.

Marler, who plans to file five more suits against the company over the next two weeks on behalf of other plaintiffs, hoped to consolidate all seven to be tried at Michael Beverly's trial date in March 1998.

The suits contend that the California-based company is liable for all damages sustained by the family, including past, current and future medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.

Odwalla, which built its reputation on fresh juices, now pasteurizes its apple juice after an E. coli outbreak in Washington, California, British Columbia, and Colorado last year that made 40 people sick, including a 16-month-old girl who later died.

Odwalla executives could not be reached yesterday for comment.