In late September and early October of 2003, the State of California and San Diego County health departments learned that three area hospitals were treating patients for E. coli O157:H7 infections and began investigating what appeared to be an outbreak.
On October 8, 2003, the San Diego County Health Department announced that sixteen E. coli cases had been reported in San Diego County, and four more had been reported in Orange County. Health Department sources indicated that the overwhelming majority of persons involved in the outbreak had consumed salads at various Pat & Oscar’s restaurants. The health department concluded that the likely source of the outbreak was pre-mixed, pre-washed and packaged lettuce mix used in Pat & Oscar’s salads.
Subsequent investigations by the health agencies confirmed that the contaminated lettuce had been produced by Gold Coast Produce, and had been distributed by F.T. Produce, Inc., d/b/a “Family Tree Produce,” to a number of different restaurants operated by Pat & Oscar’s.
Health department agencies ultimately determined that over 50 persons in San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties were victims of this E. coli outbreak tied to contaminated lettuce used in Pat & Oscar’s salads.
Marler Clark represented 25 individuals in E. coli litigation against Pat & Oscar’s and F.T. Produce. The last of the cases was resolved in November, 2004.