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Helping People Sickened by Infections
I am a personal injury lawyer who helps people sickened by infections caused by contaminated food and water. This has been my focus and my passion for over a decade.
My clients suffer life threatening illnesses through no fault of their own. My job is to help them get compensation and justice.
I have been a foodborne illness attorney my entire career. There may not be another attorney in America that can say that. It is all I’ve ever done and all I know, and I know it well. When speaking to potential clients, the phrase I hear most often from my clients is “I had no idea it could be this bad.” Most people don’t realize that many foodborne illnesses cause lengthy hospitalizations, permanent injuries or even death until they go through it personally.
When someone suffers a serious foodborne illness, it is often devastating on not just them, but also their family. Lengthy hospital stays, ever-mounting medical bills and lost wages are just the beginning. Entire lives are put on hold. These are my clients. These are the people I help to navigate through what is often the worst experience of their lives. I help them put their lives back on track.
Not only do I help my clients obtain compensation for what they went through, but I hold food producers and sellers responsible for their defective and dangerous food products. In doing so, I firmly believe our work makes the food safer for everyone. My experience includes representing individuals in nearly every major foodborne illness outbreak in the country in the last decade.
I pride myself on being accessible. You can call or email me day or night.
When a building’s water supply gets contaminated with Legionella bacteria, people can contract a severe form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease that is often fatal. Unfortunately, it is usually the elderly who are hit hardest. These are some of my favorite clients.
Ryan in the News
Because of his extensive experience, Ryan has been tapped for articles appearing in The Atlantic, Bloomberg, The Oregonian, The Des Moines Register, (Salmonella food poisoning from Fareway chicken salad) the StarTribune and for segments on network affiliates nationwide.
The following are excerpts from news websites with quotes by attorney Ryan Osterholm.
- “Her attorney, Ryan Osterholm of the Pritzker Hageman law firm in Minneapolis, said he has more than 50 clients who are linked to the Kwik Trip outbreak. He has also filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin, which has seen about 30 cases. ‘I’ve never experienced something like this where so many people are contacting us in such a short amount of time,’ said Osterholm.” (Howatt, Glenn. “Minnesota’s disease detectives get a new tool.” Star Tribune. 18 June 2018.)
- “Whipple’s lawyer, Ryan Osterholm of Minneapolis, said he wasn’t surprised to hear that a death has been linked to the outbreak, given how ill some of his clients became. He said many more people probably were sickened by the bacteria, but weren’t tested for it. Osterholm represents about 40 people who became ill and has filed three lawsuits so far. He said lawyers are gathering documents as they try to determine who’s liable for the outbreak. ‘We certainly look forward to getting to the bottom of it,’ he said.” (Leys, Tony. “CDC ties tainted chicken salad to Iowan’s death. State expert says salad may not be to blame.” Des Moines Register. 9 April 2018.)
- “Absolutely, food handlers should be vaccinated,” said Osterholm, who focuses on foodborne illness litigation. “It is bordering on the absurd we aren’t there from both a public policy and a business standpoint” because the outbreaks “are only going to be more frequent and larger.” (Sellers, Steven M. “Hepatitis Outbreaks Pose Liability Risks for Restaurants.” Bloomberg BNA. 18 Dec. 2017.)
- “He [Ryan’s client] was on the verge of death,” said Osterholm, who added that the long-term injuries remain unclear. “It’s absolutely changed his life. We need to make sure this never happens again.” Osterholm represents at least six others who were sickened during the Hopkins outbreak the past few months, and he said that number could increase [he now represents 12]. (Sawyer, Liz. “Edina man sickened in Legionnaires’ outbreak sues Hopkins juice plant.” Star Tribune. 18 Oct. 2016.)
- “Food handlers absolutely should get vaccinated [hepatitis A],” plaintiffs’ lawyer Ryan Osterholm, of Pritzker Hageman in Minneapolis, told Bloomberg BNA. “I’ve been vaccinated and I tell everyone I know to get the vaccination.” Osterholm, who represents plaintiffs involved in the recent outbreaks , said the vaccination, given in two shots six months apart, would decrease the need for litigation. (Sellers, Steven M. “Vaccines: Shot in the Arm for Food Safety?” Bloomberg BNA. 21 Oct. 2016.)
- The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a federal law designed to shift the national focus from responding to food contamination to preventing it, also puts the onus on companies to ensure the integrity of food products they import. . . . “In these cases, I don’t have to prove negligence for the most part,” Osterholm, of Pritzker Hageman, said. “Anyone would agree that foods with these pathogens are defective” and “FSMA gives me a better claim for extraordinary or punitive damages.” (Sellers, Bloomberg BNA)
- Her [woman who filed 2016 lawsuit] attorney, Ryan Osterholm, specializes in foodborne illnesses and said he has confirmed three cases of salmonella from different people in metro Phoenix within a 24-hour period. That includes two parents whose child became ill from eating at the restaurant [Pappadeaux] . “I’ve been contacted by several unrelated individuals,” Osterholm said. “That generally leads me to believe there are quite a few people out there … a much larger number.” (Brahona, Alejandro and Alltucker, Ken. “Phoenix resident sues Pappadeaux restaurant over salmonella outbreak.” The Arizona Republic, part of the USA Today Network. 30 Sept. 2016.)
- “This case [2016 lawsuit against Costco and Taylor Foods for E. coli poisoning] is also about making sure that this doesn’t happen again,” said Ryan Osterholm, the woman’s attorney. “Unfortunately, it probably will, but we have to do a better job of making sure the food supply is safe.” (Kristianto, Josh. “Gallatin Valley woman sues Costco, Taylor Foods over E. coli.” NBC affiliate KTVM. 2 Dec. 2015. Updated 10 May 2016.)
- The lawsuit [2016 against Pizza Ranch by an E. coli victim] was filed by a Minnesota lawyer who specializes in food-poisoning cases. The lawyer, Ryan Osterholm, said Thursday that he didn’t understand why public-health authorities decided against warning the public about the outbreak while it was going on. . . . “The fact the public was in the dark about this outbreak until individuals came forward and began asking questions about what made them or their children so very ill is troubling,” Osterholm wrote in an email to the Register. “The public should know about outbreaks and be informed with all the information available about the safety of restaurants where they will be spending their money. In my opinion this is a failure by both public health and the Pizza Ranch. One of the main reasons our client filed a lawsuit is to find out what exactly happened.” (Leys, Tony. “Pizza Ranch sued for E. coli outbreak.” The Des Moines Register. 17 Mar. 2016.)
- “I have no doubt in my mind that the civil justice system does change behavior,” said Ryan Osterholm, a lawyer for [Pritzker Hageman law firm] in Minneapolis, which has filed lawsuits  against Chipotle in the current case and a previous case in Minnesota. Osterholm said such lawsuits will force the company to answer questions like whether it visited the farms where its produce was grown and if it gets outside help with food quality and safety. (Associated Press. “Recent E. coli cases highlight foodborne illness problem.” CBS News. 11 Nov. 2015.)
- “It’s a little bizarre [reference to meat recall],” said Ryan Osterholm. . . . “ ‘Diseased and unsound animals’ isn’t common language in recalls,” he said. “The USDA is saying ‘this is not OK,’ and they are throwing the book at them.” (Hughlett, Mike. “Large meat recall grows to Minnesota.” Star Tribune. 12 Mar. 2014.)
- Ryan Osterholm, an attorney on the case, said his office has been inundated with calls from Iowans and others who contracted the illness since cyclospora was traced to bagged lettuce last week. “It’s almost like each case gets worse than the next,” Osterholm said. “People have been prisoners in their own homes for a month because they can’t go anywhere because the diarrhea is so explosive and sudden and if you’re not within 30 seconds of a bathroom it’s a major issue.” (The Cedar Rapids Gazette. “Two people file lawsuits following cyclospora outbreak.” 28 Mar. 2014.)
- “We strongly believe she contracted the illness [cyclosporiasis] by eating at an Olive Garden and we have received calls for several weeks from others with similar illness after eating at Darden restaurants,” said Osterholm. . . . Osterholm said that the lawsuit is necessary to get more information about the outbreak. “There really is no other vehicle to get that information,” he said. “A lot of records are inaccessible without litigation.” (Lelis, Ludmilla. “Woman sues Darden, says she got cyclospora parasite at Olive Garden.” Orlando Sentinel. 3 Aug. 2013.)
- One effect of a sick worker or a dangerous type of bacteria infiltrating a restaurant is called “clustering,” where a certain number of reported foodborne illnesses all originate from the same restaurant. Ryan Osterholm, a personal injury lawyer specializing in foodborne illness, looks for this phenomenon when he’s investigating a client’s case. “Sick food handlers have a role in foodborne illnesses,” says Osterholm. “Restaurant cluster cases usually lead back to specific sick food handlers.” (Epstein, Eli. “No Money in a Dirty Kitchen: The Repercussions of NYC’s Restaurant Grading System.” The Atlantic. 23 July 2012.)
Family and Personal Background
Ryan lives in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities with his wife Monica, son Ethan, and Great Dane Pearl. One of Ryan’s many odd hobbies is giant pumpkin growing. He takes a meticulous scientific approach to pumpkin growing, just like he does for tracking down outbreaks. His personal record is a pumpkin that weighed well over 900 pounds. According to Ryan, “In nature, whether it is tracking down the source of an outbreak, or growing a giant pumpkin, the science never lies.” You can read more about Ryan and his giant pumpkins in this article.