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CU Sophomore suing Jimmy John's

Jimy Valenti

The Campus Press

A lawsuit filed last week against Jimmy John's by CU sophomore Katie Pendleton may be tied to E. coli outbreaks in Michigan and Illinois.

Pendleton, a marketing major, is suing Jimmy John's for selling her food that was allegedly defective and not reasonably safe, according to papers filed in Boulder District court last week. Pendleton was infected with E. coli last month. The monetary amount of the lawsuit has not been released.

Pendleton's lawyer, the nationally recognized food borne illness attorney Bill Marler, reported on his blog a possible connection between lettuce served at Jimmy John's in Michigan, Illinois and Boulder to E. coli cases in all three areas including some cases in Canada.

Michigan Community Health Department Spokesperson, James McCurtis, said 38 cases of E. coli were reported since September 1 in Michigan. The outbreak was traced back to Aunt Mid's lettuce, a produce wholesaler.

McCurtis said Michigan restaurants receiving lettuce from Aunt Mid's could not be released because E. coli found in Aunt Mid's lettuce was not the fault of the individual restaurants.

Marler's blog said Jimmy John's, a national sandwich shop chain based in Illinois, may be one of those companies which purchased the tainted lettuce. He said infected persons in Michigan and Illinois told him they also ate at Jimmy John's before they got sick.

Boulder's Jimmy John's, 1125 13th St., was closed two days earlier this month following an E. coli outbreak infecting 17 boulder residents, eleven of them CU students, since late September.

Boulder County Health Department suspected Jimmy John's as the source of the E. coli. Chana Goussetis, BCHD spokesperson, said no conclusive evidence was found linking Jimmy John's to Boulder's E. coli outbreak, but that they wanted to play it safe in closing the restaurant.

"At the moment we are waiting to see if we get anything else different. We are analyzing the data to see if we can find any patterns between what people ate and who got sick. It may happen that we won't be able to find a source, but we can take a pretty educated guess. We may never know for sure," Goussestis said.

Goussestis said Jimmy John's was re-opened last week because they threw out all their food and received new food. She said that all Jimmy John's employees tested negative for E. coli.

A Jimmy John's representative said each Jimmy John's location purchases their own lettuce locally and that contaminated lettuce from the Illinois Michigan area was unlikely to be in the Boulder location.

McCurtis said MDCH officials have not contacted Colorado health officials and that no Michigan/Illinois - Colorado E. coli connection has been established.

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