E. coli outbreak linked to mall restaurant

An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak has been linked to Habanero’s Mexican Restaurant at St. Clair Square, a regional mall in Southwest Illinois. Five people have tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 since eating at Habanero’s on August 23 or 24, according to a statement issued by the St. Clair Health Department. Victims of the outbreak are reportedly from several nearby cities, including O’Fallon and Fairview Heights.

Victims of E. coli O157:H7 infections suffer from severe stomach cramping, nausea, and bloody diarrhea. Although most people recover from their infections, about 5-10% of infected individuals goes on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (“HUS”), a severe life-threatening complication. HUS is now recognized as the most common cause of kidney failure in childhood, and is responsible for over 90% of the cases of HUS that develop in North America.

“Victims of E. coli infections deserve to be compensated for what they go through,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally recognized for representing victims of foodborne illness. “In an outbreak situation, most victims seek medical attention and several are hospitalized, whether for dehydration, kidney failure, or other complications. Medical bills add up, and then there is the time people miss at work either from being sick themselves or from caring for ill children or spouses.”

The restaurant voluntarily closed while officials try to determine the cause of the outbreak. Past restaurant outbreaks have been linked to contaminated ground beef, steaks, fruits and vegetables, sprouts, and infected food-workers. The St. Clair County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health, and surrounding city and county health departments are investigating the outbreak, which is thought to have the potential to be wide-spread.

“Health officials will find the source of this outbreak, and when that time comes, the parties who were responsible for the outbreak should be held accountable to victims,” Marler concluded.


BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of E. coli illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million E. coli settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. The firm also represented eleven schoolchildren who became ill with E. coli infections after eating contaminated tacos for school lunch. The children were awarded $4.6 million by a jury in Eastern Washington. The partners at Marler Clark speak frequently on a variety of issues surrounding food safety.

For more information regarding E. coli outbreaks and resulting litigation, visit the Marler Clark Web site about E. coli litigation.

More about the Habaneros E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.