The first E. coli lawsuit stemming from the Ohio and Michigan E. Coli outbreak was filed today in the Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County, OH against Kroger and its as yet unidentified meat supplier (“John Doe”). [An amended complaint naming Nebraska Beef Ltd was filed on July 2, 2008.] The complaint was filed on behalf of a New Albany resident who was infected with the toxic E. coli strain O157:H7 after eating ground beef purchased from a Dublin, Ohio Kroger. The plaintiff is represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, and by Nicholas Philips of the Cleveland area firm of Phillips, Mille and Constabile.
The lawsuit states that the plaintiff purchased beef patties from the Kroger at 7100 Perimeter Loop Road in Dublin on June 4. She cooked and consumed the beef that same day. She began feeling ill on June 8, and over the next two days her symptoms became increasingly severe. By June 10, she was experiencing intense nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. She was admitted to the hospital, where she tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. She was released on June 12, and continues to recover from her illness.
E. coli illnesses began showing up in central Ohio in mid-June. This was paralleled by a sharp increase in E. coli cases in Michigan. By June 20, officials had genetically linked many of the Ohio and Michigan cases; the days that followed, the outbreak was traced to ground beef from Kroger stores. With illnesses nearing 30, Kroger initiated a voluntary recall on June 25. The products subject to recall include all varieties and weights of ground beef products bearing a Kroger label sold between May 21 and June 8 at Michigan stores, as well as Kroger stores in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio. These ground beef products are marked with a sell-by date between 05/21/08 and 06/08/08.
Since the spring of 2007 over 34 million pounds of E. coli contaminated beef has been recalled by different companies. Kroger has recalled beef and beef products at least five times over the last seven years:
• 2001: Excel Corporation of Newnan, GA recalled 190,000 pounds of fresh ground beef and pork that had been distributed to Kroger stores in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
• 2002: Kroger stores in 18 states recalled ConAgra ground beef products. In all, 18.6 million pounds of beef was recalled. 45 People in 23 states became ill with E. coli from the tainted meat. One woman in Ohio died.
• 2002 - One store in Arkansas recalled 240 pounds ground beef, no illnesses.
• 2003: Green Bay Dressed Beef doing business as American Foods Group recalled 106,000 pounds of fresh and frozen ground beef products distributed under the Kroger logo.
• 2007 - United Food Group recalled 5.7 million pounds of beef, including ground beef sold at Kroger.
The attorneys of Marler Clark have been involved in representing victims of E. coli infection since 1993. They have worked closely with co-counsel, Nicholas Phillips, on past outbreak Ohio litigation.