E. coli lawsuit filed against meat supplier, grocer

ALBANY, NY – An E. coli lawsuit was filed Thursday against Topps Meat Company and Price Chopper. The lawsuit was filed in Albany County Supreme Court on behalf of Albany County residents Darrell and Laurie Boehlke and their 8-year-old daughter, Erika, who became ill after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a potentially deadly foodborne pathogen. The Boehlkes are represented by Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness, and by Underberg & Kessler, a respected upstate New York law firm.

In the lawsuit, attorneys allege that Erika Boehlke ate an E. coli contaminated hamburger produced by Topps and sold by Price Chopper on August 26, 2005. By August 30, she was ill with symptoms of E. coli infection, including nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Erika’s diarrhea turned bloody, and her parents took her to St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany on September 2, where she was admitted. Erika developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and was transferred to Albany Medical Center on September 4. She underwent eleven rounds of kidney dialysis, and remained hospitalized until September 17. As a result of her illness, Erika suffered permanent kidney damage and remains at risk of future complications, including end stage renal disease. Left over ground beef produced by Topps and sold at Price chopper in the Boehlke’s freezer tested positive for a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was genetically indistinguishable from that isolated from Erika’s stool.

“Not being able to take a child’s pain away is every parent’s nightmare,” said Bruce Clark, attorney for the Boehlke family. “E. coli infections cause excruciating illnesses that children just have to endure – there is no treatment, nothing that can stop the bacteria from causing complications for which doctors can provide only supportive care.”


Marler Clark and Underberg & Kessler have together represented hundreds of New York citizens who have become ill with food- or water-borne illnesses. The firms represented seventy victims of the Brook-Lea Country Club Salmonella outbreak in Rochester in 2002. They have also teamed up to represent a six-year-old girl from White Plains, New York, who developed HUS and nearly died after eating an E. coli-contaminated hamburger made with meat purchased from BJ’s Wholesale Club and the family of a man who died of an acute hepatitis A infection after eating at the Maple Lawn Dairy in Elmira, New York. The firms currently represent over 200 victims of the Cryptosporidium outbreak traced to contaminated water at the Seneca Lake State Park in central New York this summer.

More about the Topps and Price Chopper E. coli case can be found in the Case News area of this site.