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Juice Maker Sued Over Salmonella Outbreak: 52 Cases of Salmonella Linked to Orange Juice

Mike Carter Seattle Times staff reporter

A Seattle lawyer has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Arizona manufacturer of orange juice linked to a growing outbreak of salmonella infections.

The Seattle-King County Health Department has reported four more cases of salmonella whose genetic makeup can be linked to unpasteurized orange juice manufactured by Sun Orchard in Tempe, Ariz. That brings to 18 the number of cases directly tied to Sun Orchard, said Dr. John Kobayashi, an epidemiologist with the state Health Department.

Officials also have found salmonella in unopened Sun Orchard juice containers. The juice has been served in Seattle restaurants and was used in juice "smoothies" made at Seattle-area World Wrapps restaurants. So far, according to Health Department spokesman Mark Alstead, only one person has been hospitalized for treatment of dehydration. The remainder are recovering from their illnesses, he said.

Alstead said about a half-dozen salmonella infections also have been confirmed in Washington outside King County. Other possibly linked cases have cropped up in Oregon and Northern California.

Salmonella is a bacterium that infects the intestines, causing fever, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. It is rarely fatal, but can kill the elderly or very young.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 4-year-old boy, Ian Jackson, who fell ill after drinking orange juice at a Father's Day breakfast. The boy suffered a high fever, severe cramps and bloody diarrhea as a result of the infection. Attorney Bill Marler said 18 salmonella victims have joined the suit. Sun Orchard Vice President Jim Kurtz said he has not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in King County Superior Court, accuses Sun Orchard of negligence and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Marler and his partners won multimillion-dollar settlements against Jack-in-the-Box outlets and Odwalla Juice Co. following outbreaks of the E. coli bacteria in 1993 and 1996.

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