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E. coli Legal Cases

North Carolina: State Fair E. coli O157:H7 Litigation
Marler Clark, and a well respected Asheville, NC attorney, will filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court against Jason and Ralph Wilkie, owners and operators of the Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo, the petting zoo linked to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at the North Carolina State Fair in October. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four children who suffered from E. coli infections after visiting the Crossroads Farm petting zoo at the State Fair.

Missouri: Kid’s Korner Daycare E. coli Litigation
As many as 26 children were sickened, several of them critically, by an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 at the Kid’s Korner Day Care Center in Joplin, in southwest Missouri. Marler Clark represents the family of a two-year-old who suffered kidney failure from hemolytic uremic syndrome, or “HUS.”
Investigators traced the outbreak to the daycare center after several cases of E. coli poisoning were reported in the Joplin area.
The two-year-old toddler was hospitalized for nearly three weeks, including a full week of kidney dialysis, seven blood transfusions and three surgeries.
Minnesota: Carneco/ Sam’s Club E. coli litigation
Marler Clark represents a 10-year-old Minnesota boy poisoned by E. coli O157:H7 contamination in ground beef processed by Carneco Foods, of Nebraska, and sold by Sam’s Club in Eagan, Minnesota, in the summer of 2004. The youth suffered more than a week of extreme pains and bloody diarrhea, followed by a month of weakness and exhaustion.
The outbreak eventually prompted federal authorities to recall nearly 500,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties manufactured by Carneco, some of which was branded as “Northern Plains” and sold at Sam’s Club stores in Minnesota.
California: Sequoias Retirement Center E. coli Outbreak Litigation
Two elderly women died and dozens more residents and employees were sickened by E. coli O157:H7 traced to prepackaged spinach served by a food service at the Sequoias Portola Valley retirement home in California in October, 2003.
Marler Clark settled the cases of two victims of the outbreak at the 315-resident complex near Palo Alto, California. The spinach was served by Sodexho USA, a multinational food service that provides more than 1 million meals per day to a wide variety of institutions.
Health officials traced the source of the E. coli 0157:H7 to packaged spinach which was marketed as “pre-washed,” but was not rinsed by the Sodexho kitchen staff. Officials were trying to determine if there was a genetic link to similar outbreaks attributed to contaminated lettuce.
California: Packaged Lettuce / Pat & Oscar’s E. coli Outbreak
Marler Clark represents many of the dozens of consumers sickened by potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 poisoning after eating pre-packaged lettuce served at Pat & Oscar’s, a Southern California restaurant chain in October, 2003.
Most of the victims were young children who ate salads at Pat & Oscar’s restaurants in San Diego and Orange Counties. State officials traced the E. coli to lettuce grown by Gold Coast, of Oxnard, CA, and distributed by F.T. Produce Inc. of Anaheim.
A Carlsbad High School student was hospitalized twice after contracting hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can cause kidney failure.
Officials say packaged lettuce is marketed as “pre-washed” but should always be thoroughly washed by the consumer.
Missouri: Habaneros E. coli Outbreak
A 20-year-old St. Louis woman nearly died from E. coli O157:H7 poisoning contracted after eating a $5 burrito at Habaneros, a once-popular Mexican restaurant at the St. Clair Square Mall in the St. Louis suburb of Fairview Heights.
At least five other people were sickened by the August 2003 outbreak, whose precise source has not been identified.
Tennessee: Peninsula Village E. coli Litigation
Marler Clark filed a lawsuit against the owners of Peninsula Village Monday claiming she contracted E. coli as a resident at Peninsula Village, a facility that houses about 70 teens on behalf of Katherine Russe. Later that month, the infection control nurse at the facility reported a number of cases of diarrhea. On June 24, Russe began experiencing diarrhea, required medical care, and a culture was taken and returned positive for E. coli. The Centers for Disease Control opened an investigation and learned Russe and a male resident shared a pattern “indicating a single source of the E. coli outbreak. The CDC, after a thorough investigation, concluded that the most likely source of the E. coli infections were meals served in the kitchen at `Peninsula Village.” Russe remained at UT for 17 days, was discharged on July 17, 1999, and has continued to suffer complications.
Washington: Spokane Produce E. coli Litigation
In the summer of 2002, more than 50 high school dancers contracted E. coli O157:H7 from prepackaged lettuce served at a dance camp in Spokane, Washington. Marler Clark represents several of the victims, including a Spokane teenager who had to endure dialysis treatments because her kidneys were severely damaged by the E. coli.
The Spokane outbreak illustrates the widespread misconception that E. coli is transmitted only in tainted meats. Federal and state authorities agree that the pathogen is frequently transmitted to lettuce, onions and other vegetables and fruits, probably by way of irrigation water contaminated with cow manure.
In the aftermath of the outbreak, the federal Food and Drug Administration issued a rare warning that consumers should throw out prepackaged bags of Romaine lettuce packaged that summer by Spokane Produce.
Wisconsin: Emmpak E. coli Litigation
A victim of E. coli has filed a lawsuit against Cargill subsidiary Emmpak Foods after tests linked a burger from the company to her illness. Susan Woodson was hospitalized for several days in late August and early September with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, one of 57 traced to Emmpak’s Peck Meats Packing division in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Marler Clark filed a lawsuit on behalf of Woodson and her husband. A leftover burger found in Woodson’s refrigerator enabled health officials to trace the infections to Emmpak ground beef through genetic testing. The same E. coli strain that caused Woodson’s illness is the one that led to Emmpak’s 400,000-pound ground beef recall on 1 October. That recall was expanded to 2.8 million pounds on 3 October.
Ohio: King Garden E. coli litigation
Marler Clark represents three Ohio families devastated in 2002 by an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 traced to the King Garden restaurant in Wooster, Ohio. At least 11 people, most of them young children, were seriously sickened by the contaminated food — probably Jell-O that had been stored in a refrigerator directly beneath contaminated meat.
The young victims suffered long periods of bloody diarrhea, cramps, stomach pains and more. One child suffered kidney failure.
Health officials said the restaurant had a long-standing problem with sanitation, including improper hand washing, lack of hot water at the hand-washing sink, failure to use hair restraints, meats and vegetables stored in uncovered containers, failure to clean knives and other utensils, rodent droppings and more.
Lane, Oregon – County Fair E. coli Litigation
Marler Clark represents many of the 82 people, most of them young children, who were sickened by E. coli O157:H7 at the Lane County Fair in Eugene, Oregon, in the summer of 2002.
The Lane County outbreak is one of the worst of recent E. coli outbreaks linked to rural county fairs and petting zoos around the country. A recent Department of Agriculture study concluded that up to 14 percent of cattle at county fairs carry the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria.
In Eugene, health investigators established a genetic link between the E. coli among the victims and the barnyard animals at the fair. Officials identified E. coli bacteria on or near air circulation ducts, leading them to believe the toxins were spread through the air.
Of the 82 victims, nearly two-thirds were children younger than age six. Many of them had not directly touched any animals, leading investigators to believe the infection was airborne.
Since that outbreak, Lane County and many other fairs have installed hand-washing stations and signs warning fairgoers to wash their hands thoroughly after touching animals.
New York: Ground beef and E. coli.
At least 18 people in suburban New York and New Jersey were poisoned by E. coli O157:H7 that was eventually traced to bulk ground beef bought from BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Marler Clark represents the most seriously-ill children who were sickened by eating backyard hamburgers made from the tainted beef in the summer of 2002. The Massachusetts-based wholesaler initially denied any responsibility, but eventually agreed to a limited recall of ground beef.
Multistate outbreak: ConAgra E. coli Litigation
In the early summer of 2002, hospitals saw a sudden increase of patients, most young children, with acute food poisoning — illnesses that eventually were diagnosed as E. coli O157:H7. The E. coli outbreak sickened people across the Midwest, in cities and towns ranging from Colorado and South Dakota to Missouri and Ohio. In late June, the E. coli was traced to ground beef from a sprawling ConAgra meat-packing plant in Greeley Colorado, a short drive north of Denver. That disclosure eventually led to the recall of 18 million pounds of ConAgra ground beef, the largest such recall in history.
Marler Clark represented most of the victims of the outbreak, which led to at least 46 illnesses and one death. Among the victims were an Ohio childcare worker, a Colorado security officer who was working on forest firefighters, and young children in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota. Several of them were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially-fatal kidney disease caused by E. coli O157:H7.
In fact, the toll was probably far greater, since many E. coli poisonings are never diagnosed nor reported to health authorities.
People were poisoned by ground beef from a broad range of stores and cooked in a number of ways, including spaghetti sauce, barbecued hamburgers and soup.
ConAgra eventually acknowledged that its meat was infected with E. coli O157:H7.
North Carolina: Robeson Schools E. coli outbreak
Homemade, unpasteurized butter was the probable source of E. coli O157:H7 contamination that sickened at least 200 people at Prospect Elementary School in rural Robeson County, North Carolina, in the fall of 2001. State officials called it the largest such outbreak in state history.
Marler Clark represented 34 of the people most-affected by the outbreak, including the family of an 11-year-old sixth-grader who spent six days in the hospital with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) which frequently leads to kidney failure.
An epidemiological report blamed the outbreak on homemade butter served to students as a classroom demonstration. The butter was not pasteurized.
Michigan: E. coli in cannoli filling
Contaminated cannoli filling from a popular local bakery poisoned nearly 200 people in suburban Detroit Michigan in early 2002. State investigators blamed poor sanitation practices — lack of employee hand-washing and cross contamination of infected eggs or dairy products in the kitchen.
Marler Clark represents many of those most-sickened by the toxin, which contaminated products sold at the bakery and served at a variety of events.
Of 196 people who were sickened, 24 were hospitalized with extreme diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting and other painful symptoms linked to E. coli.
Investigators could not determine the precise origin of the contamination, but reported that the outbreak was worsened by poor kitchen practices.
Washington: Jack In The Box E. coli litigation
More than 600 people were sickened, and four children died, following a 1993 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that was blamed on undercooked hamburgers from Jack In The Box restaurants in Washington and other Western states.
Lawyers now at Marler Clark handled most of the litigation which resulted in individual and class-action settlements totaling more than $50 million — the largest payments ever involving food-borne illness.
The outbreak was traced to ground beef from wholesaler Von Companies of California, and sold by Jack In The Box franchises across the West. Documents from Foodmaker, the San Diego-based parent company, showed that the company had been warned by local health departments and by their own employees that they were undercooking their hamburgers. But the company had decided that cooking beef to the Washington State standard of 155 degrees made the meat too tough.
The sickest victims were mostly younger children, including four who eventually died. A nine-year-old Seattle girl who recovered after being in a coma for 42 days, won a $15.6 million settlement from the company.
The widely-publicized outbreak and litigation led to widespread changes in food-safety practices at restaurants across the country.
Nationwide: Odwalla juice E. coli Litigation
Marler Clark represented most of the most-affected victims of an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 traced to Odwalla apple juice in 1996. At least 70 persons were sickened, and a 16-month-old Colorado girl died, from drinking juice that was not pasteurized.
The sickest victims were children in Seattle, Colorado and Washington, D.C., several of whom suffered from hemolytic uremic syndrome and permanent kidney damage. Odwalla, based in Half Moon Bay, California, eventually paid a multi-million-dollar settlement to the victims and their families.
Odwalla had built its reputation for producing “fresh” juice with no preservatives. But investigators eventually concluded that its juices contained dangerously high bacterial contamination — so much that the U.S. Army had refused to buy Odwalla products.
The apple juice is believed to have become contaminated via apples that fell off trees and into cow manure before being harvested for juice. The case had a nationwide impact, demonstrating that food-borne illness can be contracted from fresh produce as well as meats.
Odwalla began pasteurizing its juices after the 1996 outbreak.
Georgia: Bauer Meat E. coli litigation
Marler Clark represented the family of an 11-year-old Georgia boy who became sick with E. coli 0157:H7 after eating a contaminated hamburger at Danielsville Elementary School in April of 1998.
The meat was traced to Bauer Meat Co. of Ocala Florida, leading federal officials to close down the company and recall 38,000 pounds of ground beef that had been distributed to schools, military bases and other institutions in Georgia and North Carolina.
The victim spent four days in an Atlanta hospital
Georgia: Atlanta White Water Waterpark E. coli Litigation
In the summer of 1998, 26 children became ill from E. coli O157:H7 contracted while playing in the kiddie pool at White Water Park, a commercial water park in suburban Atlanta. Seven of those children were hospitalized and a 2-year-old boy died from hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney disorder caused by E. coli O157:H7.
Operators of the pool initially denied responsibility for the E. coli outbreak, but investigators determined that the chlorine level in the pool was well below the local health standard on the days when the water was contaminated, greatly increasing the risk of infection..
Marler Clark represented most of the victims and their families, eventually obtaining $x million in settlements. The incident also increased national awareness of the hazards of water contamination, prompting the industry to pay closer attention to pool cleaning and chlorine.
Washington: Finley E. coli Litigation
In 2001, Marler Clark won an extraordinary $4.6 million judgment in behalf of 11 children sickened by E. coli O157:H7 in undercooked taco meat served at a school lunch at Finley Elementary School in southeast Washington State.
The jury award was subsequently upheld the record award, and the state Supreme Court declined to review that decision.
A jury agreed with state Health Department investigators who concluded that the E. coli infections came from hamburger meat that had been frozen, then inadequately thawed and cooked for the school lunches. Most of the award went to a young girl, then just 2 years old, who didn’t eat the meal but was later infected by one of the older victims. The youngster underwent kidney dialysis and is expected to have lifelong aftereffects from the E. coli toxins.
Marler Clark also reached an out-of-court settlement with Northern States Beef, which provided the raw meat to the school district.
New Jersey: Karl Ehmer Meats E. coli Litigation
A 20-month-old New Jersey boy died of E. coli poisoning in August, 2000, ten days after eating barbecued ground beef purchased at Karl Ehmer Meats in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey. Marler Clark represents the family, who were also sickened by the outbreak, but recovered.
The butcher shop, part of an East Coast chain, recalled its ground beef after health officials tested frozen hamburger in the family’s freezer and traced the meat to the local shop.
Minnesota: Supervalu E. coli Litigation
Supervalu Inc. and a Wisconsin-based meat supplier were sued by an Inver Grove Heights couple whose 3-year-old daughter was hospitalized for more than a month after eating ground beef purchased at Cub Foods, a Supervalu subsidiary. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court, said Sonja Pearson became ill with an acute E. coli infection last November, a few days after eating ground beef purchased from Cub Foods in West St. Paul. The toddler was taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., where she went into kidney failure and required dialysis for 27 days. She also developed peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal lining and internal organs, the lawsuit says. By the time Sonja was released, her parents, Jim and Susanna Pearson had more than $220,000 in medical expenses. Sonja sustained permanent kidney damage and has an increased risk of developing progressive renal disease. Investigators from the Minnesota health and agriculture departments had determined American Foods Group Inc. (AFG) of Green Bay, Wis., had supplied the beef that Supervalu used to make the ground beef.
Minnesota: China Buffet E. coli Litigation
Marler Clark filed suit against the China Buffet restaurant in Alexandria, Minnesota on behalf of 69-year old Iva Hayes, a local resident. Mrs. Hayes was severely stricken by the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria she ingested with a food item at the China Buffet. She incurred over $400,000 in medical bills and was hospitalized for months. Mrs. Hayes was one of five people from Douglas, Stearns and Pope Counties of Minnesota who got sick from E. coli O157:H7 after eating at the China Buffet in late August. She developed kidney, blood, and neurologic conditions that required her to be kept in the Hennepin County Medical Center and Knapp Rehabilitation facility for almost two months. Mrs. Hayes has returned home, but now requires regular physical therapy and can no longer drive due to the seizures she suffered.
Ohio: Kentucky Fried Chicken E. coli Litigation
An Anderson Township woman who nearly died last year after eating tainted coleslaw from a local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant filed a lawsuit Thursday against the chain. Geraldine Johnson, 64, was one of 11 people who public health officials concluded were made ill last summer after eating KFC coleslaw contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a sometimes deadly form of the bacteria.
Wisconsin: Sizzler E. coli Litigation
Marler Clark filed 15 lawsuits on behalf of Milwaukee residents, including four children, who claim they got extremely sick from E. coli bacteria at area Sizzler restaurants. The lawsuits, filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Thursday, seek damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages from meat company Excel Corp. More than 60 people got sick and a 3-year-old South Milwaukee girl died after eating at the restaurants in July 2000. Health officials believe the patrons got sick after eating foods that somehow became contaminated by the bacteria from the meat. Investigators blamed Sizzler’s meat handling procedures for the contamination.
Oregon: Wendy’s E. coli Litigation
Marler Clark represented 35 of the 49 suspected cases in the E. coli outbreak tied to the Wendy’s restaurant in Tualatin. The connection was made after a second was linked to the outbreak when an adult female was confirmed Sept. 2 as an E. coli victim. The DNA of the E. coli matched that of the Salem outbreak, confirming a common contamination source. Two of the victims, both young brothers suffered severe kidney failure
Georgia: Excel E. coli Litigation
The family of a 12-year-old Norcross boy who was infected with a strain of E. coli bacteria after eating a tainted hamburger patty is suing Excel Corp. Alexander White became sick and was hospitalized Dec. 23-27 after eating a hamburger tainted with the bacteria. The meat, purchased at a Sam’s Club store in Duluth, was packaged by Excel Corp. of Wichita, Kan.

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