SEATTLE, WA - Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm with a long track record of successful lawsuits against food companies, filed a lawsuit today on behalf of five year old Colin Summers who was sickened by sprouts containing Salmonella Mbandaka bacteria. Hydro Harvest Ltd., of Brush Prairie, Washington manufactured the contaminated sprouts.
The named plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Craig and Linda Summers, the parents of Colin, who became seriously ill when he was exposed to the potentially deadly bacteria. He suffered severe and bloody diarrhea and was hospitalized for nearly one week. Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail, and elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there may be long term consequences to a Salmonella infection. Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of persons infected with Salmonella will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat.
The State Department of Public Health for both Washington and Oregon reported in excess of 80 people who were sickened by the bacteria. Laboratory tests have shown that salmonella with a matching molecular fingerprint caused all known cases. Findings by public health investigators suggest that the outbreak might have been prevented if Hydro Harvest had treated seeds with a concentrated solution of calcium hypochlorate, a process advocated by the International Sprout Growers Association.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Sprouts have been implicated in a Salmonella outbreak. Hydro Harvest should have known it was risking people’s health,” said William Marler, a Marler Clark partner. According to a July, 9, 1999 FDA Advisory, sprouts have been implicated in many outbreaks including the following:
· May 1999, approximately 30 cases of salmonellosis associated with the consumption of clover sprouts in California.
· March-May, 1999, approximately 70 cases of salmonellosis associated with the consumption of clover sprouts in Colorado.
· July 1998, 8 cases of illness attributed to E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with the consumption of alfalfa/clover sprouts in California and Nevada.
· May 1998, 18 cases of salmonellosis associated with the consumption of alfalfa sprouts in California.
· Late 1997-July 1998, 60 cases of salmonellosis associated with the consumption of an alfalfa/clover sprout mixture in California.
· February 1996, 133 cases of salmonellosis associated with the consumption of alfalfa sprouts in Oregon and British Columbia.
· June 1995, 242 cases of salmonellosis in 17 states and Finland were attributed to alfalfa sprouts.
According to the FDA if you are a child, are elderly or are immune compromised, you should avoid raw alfalfa sprouts. If you are a healthy adult, the FDA recommends:
1. Buy only sprouts kept at refrigerator temperature
2. Wash hands with warm water and soap
3. Rinse sprouts thoroughly with water before use
BACKGROUND: The attorneys at the Marler Clark law firm have been involved in hundreds of cases, in-cluding the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, the Odwalla E. coli outbreak, the Malt-O-Meal and Sun Orchard Salmonella outbreaks, the White Water waterpark E. coli outbreak in Atlanta, the Golden Corral E. coli outbreak in Kearney, Nebraska, the Bauer Meats E. coli outbreak in Ath-ens, Georgia, and the Finley School District E. coli outbreak in the Tri-cities, Washington.