A second lawsuit stemming from the current Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) recall by JBS Swift Beef Company was filed today in the US District Court, Eastern District of Washington. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of a young Selah-area child who fell ill with an E. coli infection after eating the tainted beef. William Marler of the Seattle-based foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark represents the family.
“This family’s experience underscores the need for swifter action on the part of the local, state, and federal regulatory agencies responsible for our public health,” said Marler. “They are going to need more funding in order to become faster at determining outbreaks and recalling products. The way things are now, the human cost is unacceptably high.”
The Whitney family purchased ground beef from a local Costco, meat that was later determined to be part of the recall of 420,000 pounds of beef by JBS Swift Company of Greeley, Colorado. After consuming the meat, their young child fell ill with gastrointestinal symptoms, including intense diarrhea and abdominal cramps. His mother took him to the emergency room, where he was hydrated and released. His symptoms worsened at home; he was writhing in pain and his diarrhea became visibly bloody. He was rushed back to the ER, where he was admitted to the hospital. Stool samples indicated that he was infected with E. coli O157:H7. Furthermore, blood tests revealed that his kidneys had begun to fail, meaning that he had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS—a complication of E. coli infection.
The child was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where he received dialysis and blood transfusions. He was hospitalized for over three weeks. Even though he has been released, his kidneys are only functioning at 30% of normal, and he has long-lasting damage from his illness. The genetic fingerprint of the E. coli found in the child’s stool matches that of others sickened in the nationwide outbreak tied to recalled JBS Swift beef.
On Sunday, June 28, the JBS Swift Beef Company expanded its earlier recall of 41,280 pounds of beef contaminated with the highly toxic pathogen E. coli to include an additional 380,000 pounds. The CDC currently lists 23 ill in 9 states, but they have yet to update their numbers with cases like the Whitney family’s, in Washington State. This is the second E. coli lawsuit filed by Marler Clark against JBS Swift.