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E. coli victim sues BJ's Wholesale Club

NEWARK, NJ — A lawsuit was filed today against BJ’s Wholesale Club on behalf of a boy who was three years old when he suffered complications of an E. coli infection after eating contaminated ground beef purchased at BJ’s in 2002. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has successfully represented hundreds of E. coli victims, represents Owen Langan and his parents, Joseph and Lora Langan, with co-counsel, Neil Kilstein, of Elmwood park, New Jersey. The complaint, which was filed in United States District Court in Newark, seeks compensation for the family’s significant medical-related expenses, economic losses, and pain and suffering.

Owen consumed ground beef purchased from the BJ’s Wholesale Club store located in Paramus, New Jersey, during the week of May 11, 2002. He subsequently became ill with an E. coli infection and developed its dangerous complication, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Owen was hospitalized for a total of 15 days, during which he underwent several blood transfusions and kidney dialysis treatments.

“Owen and his parents suffered greatly throughout this whole ordeal,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. “He has three other brothers and sisters, including a baby sister who was only two weeks old when he became ill. The strain on the family was enormous. On top of that, his medical bills are $75,000, and BJ’s has not yet offered to pay for them. I find that hard to believe since BJ’s already settled the cases of two Orangeburg, New York, girls whose related E. coli illnesses were also linked to BJ’s meat.”

According to Marler, solid epidemiological work by the New York and New Jersey State Health Departments made it possible to pinpoint the source of Owen’s E. coli infection. Health officials used Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE), a type of DNA “fingerprinting,” to link Owen’s illness to the illnesses of two Orangeburg, NY girls and to E. coli bacteria found in an unopened package of BJ’s meat. The firm settled claims against BJ’s on behalf of the two girls, Katelyn Koesterer and Christina Graff of Orangeburg, NY, in April.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is a frightening illness that even in the best American medical facilities has a mortality rate of about 5%. About 50% of patients require dialysis due to kidney failure, 25% experience seizures, and 5% suffer from diabetes mellitus. The majority of HUS patients requires transfusion of blood products and develops complications common to the critically ill. Among survivors of HUS, about five percent will eventually develop end stage kidney disease, with the resultant need for dialysis or transplantation, and another five to ten percent experience neurological or pancreatic problems which significantly impair quality of life.


BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Since 1993 Marler Clark has successfully resolved well over a thousand food-borne illness matters. Total recoveries exceed $75 million.

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More about the BJ's Wholesale Club E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.

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