Illinois Woman Files Clostridium Perfrigens Lawsuit Against Merle's BBQ

CHICAGO, IL – A woman who became ill with Clostridium perfrigens after eating food catered by Merle’s BBQ Restaurant at a February Evanston School District 65 event filed a lawsuit against the restaurant today. The lawsuit was filed by the Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark and Newland, Newland, and Newland of Arlington Heights in Cook County Circuit Court.

According to the complaint, on February 16th Beatrice Jenkins was volunteering at Haven Middle School during parent-teacher conferences when she and her daughter consumed food that was catered by Merle’s BBQ Restaurant. The following morning both Ms. Jenkins and her daughter became ill with severe gastrointestinal illness and were admitted to the emergency department at Evanston Hospital.

That same day Evanston School District 65 notified the City of Evanston Health Department that 30 individual cases of foodborne illness had been reported by attendees of the previous night’s parent-teacher conferences. According to a press release issued by the health department, the investigation revealed unsafe food handling and storage temperatures at both Merle’s BBQ Restaurant and the school the food was served at. Barbeque pulled chicken contaminated with Colstridium perfrigens was determined to be the cause of the outbreak.

“This was an entirely avoidable outbreak, had proper food safety precautions been employed by Merle’s,” said Marler Clark attorney Drew Falkenstein, who noted that to date, neither Ms. Jenkins nor her daughter have fully recovered.

Clostridium perfrigens are bacteria that produce toxins that are harmful to humans with typical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Most commonly, people become infected after ingesting food with Clostridium perfrigens bacteria in it.

MARLER CLARK, The Food Safety Law Firm, has been representing victims of foodborne illness for nearly 20 years. For more information regarding this lawsuit or to receive a copy of the complaint please contact Cody Moore at or 206-407-2200.