OGDEN, UT — A lawsuit was filed today against Wendy’s, the Dublin, Ohio-based restaurant chain whose North Ogden, Utah, restaurant was traced as the source of an E. coli O121:H19 outbreak in late June, 2006. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has successfully represented hundreds of E. coli victims, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Weber County residents William and J. Corey Cohron and their two young sons. The complaint, which was filed in Weber County Superior Court, seeks compensation for the family’s significant medical-related expenses, economic losses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Todd Gardner, a partner in Bateman Goodwin & Gardner, is serving as local counsel on the case.
Corey Cohron consumed a Wendy’s “BLT” salad on June 30, 2006 while in attendance at a CORE Academy conference held at Orion Junior High School in Harrisville, Utah. In the following days, Corey became ill with symptoms of E. coli infection, including diarrhea. The remaining members of the Cohron family subsequently fell ill with diarrhea. While Corey, William, and five-year-old Liam recovered from their E. coli infections without requiring medical treatment, seven-year-old Wil suffered a particularly severe E. coli infection. Wil required emergency room treatment on July 12, and was admitted to the hospital from July 12 through July 14. After discharge, Wil was seen by his primary care physician on July 17 and July 19, but his condition continued to deteriorate and he was seen in the emergency room again on July 21. Wil was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)* and was admitted to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, where he remained from July 21 through July 27. While hospitalized, Wil tested positive for E. coli O121:H19.
On August 7, 2006, the Weber-Morgan Health Department announced that at least four individuals had contracted E. coli O121:H19 after eating iceberg lettuce prepared at the Wendy’s restaurant located at 2500 N 400 E in North Ogden. WMHD suspects that the lettuce was cross-contaminated with another food source, and that the lettuce itself was not contaminated. WMHD stated that three of the four people confirmed with E. coli O121:H19 had developed HUS.
“Wendy’s should have been aware of the dangers of cross-contamination leading to outbreaks since cross-contaminated lettuce was the source of an E. coli outbreak at two Oregon Wendy’s restaurants in 2000,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. Marler represented the families of several children who were part of the 2000 Wendy’s outbreak and developed HUS and suffered acute kidney failure. “Wendy’s is in the business of selling food – that food should be safe for human consumption.”
*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. See www.about-hus.com.
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 Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak cases for five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for a reported $12 million. Mr. Marler recently resolved an HUS case for $11 million. Marler Clark and Todd Gardner worked together to secure the largest known settlement on record in the State of Utah involving foodborne illness. Marler Clark has litigated dozens of cases against chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., Subway, Friendly’s, KFC, and Sheetz. Total recoveries for victims of food poisoning exceed $200 million.
More about the Utah Wendy's E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.