5 Reasons to Sue for E. coli Poisoning
Below are 5 reasons you should sue for E. coli poisoning now if you or your child were sickened in an outbreak.
- Until a lawsuit is filed, we can’t get access to some relevant corporate and health department documents. After a suit is filed, there are legal processes we can use to force them to share information.
- By filing as soon as possible, there is a greater chance of getting available insurance money before it is depleted by payments to other people sickened in the same outbreak. In some outbreaks, the liability to people sickened has been so great that companies have filed for bankruptcy. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows an organization to stay in business but get rid of or lessen some debts. Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates an organization, meaning it no longer exists.
When the media covers these outbreaks, they want to have contact with the victim or his/her family so they can tell the story from the standpoint of the patient. This allows people like you to be a voice for food safety and the reforms that are necessary to prevent this from happening to someone else. Our clients have been featured in major news publications and have testified before Congress.
- You will have the opportunity to be a voice for food safety reforms. The media cover E. coli outbreaks, and you can tell your story to a wider audience, educating the public on the harm this dangerous pathogen can inflict on everyday people, both young and old. Our clients have been featured in major news publications and have testified before Congress.
- This can speed up the settlement process, which is particularly important when there are serious complications, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), or severe hemorrhagic colitis (colectomy). Patients may have to be hospitalized for lengthy periods of time. Some of our clients have been in the hospital for months. When the patient is a child, the parents often have to take weeks off of work to care for them. The drain on family finances can be devastating.
Our E. coli lawyers have helped many, many families like yours obtain millions of dollars from processors, distributors, restaurants, retailers and others. They have gained a national reputation and have been interviewed and quoted by The New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and others.
FAQ: Can I Sue for E. coli?
Yes, you can sue for E. coli poisoning if there is evidence to prove that your illness (or that of a loved one) was caused by contaminated food, water, or animals (petting zoo animal contact). This is done with evidence that:
- you consumed the same food or ate at the same location as others sickened in an outbreak;
- the specific bacterium that made you sick (generally found in a stool sample) had the same genetic fingerprint as the bacterium that made others sick;
- that specific bacterium contaminated a food product, water supply, or location (processing plant, restaurant, petting zoo).
Our job as your lawyers is to make sure that the truth is found and that those responsible for these illnesses are held accountable. E coli lawsuits involve obtaining and analyzing corporate documents, interviewing people sickened and company executives, and obtaining and analyzing genetic evidence.
Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won a $7.55 million verdict in a case where a little child contracted an E. coli infection and developed a type of kidney disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure, stroke, brain damage, heart disease, and pancreatitis. Our young client’s kidneys failed, and she was on dialysis for weeks. Along with her family, we are just thankful she survived. Contact Fred Pritzker for a free consultation about your case. Pritzker Hageman, P.A. is on the current U.S. News & World Report list of “Best Law Firms.”
The cornerstone of these cases is genetic testing, including pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), often referred to as “DNA fingerprinting.” In some cases, whole genome sequencing (WGS) is also done. These tests help determine who is part of an outbreak of illnesses and what made everyone sick. Our national food safety law firm has used this kind of evidence to win millions for people harmed by unsafe food.
Recent Outbreaks and Lawsuits
On April 13, 2018, the CDC reported that 53 people have been sickened in an E. coli outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce. Thirty-one of the people sickened have been hospitalized, five of whom have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One woman is suing Panera Bread.
Eight people in New Jersey have been diagnosed with E. coli food poisoning, and a public health epidemiologist in Warren County told nj.com that E. coli cases may have been from “local Panera Breads.” People have been sickened in four counties: Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Warren.
Several people who visited the Mesa County Fair in 2017 contracted E. coli infections. The fair was held in Grand Junction, Colorado, from July 25 to July 29, 2017.
Pritzker Hageman attorneys Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm filed a suit against The SoyNut Butter Company on behalf of a child sickened in the outbreak linked to I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter products. According to the CDC this outbreak is now over, but 32 people were sickened, most of them children, and 9 of these children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (E. coli-HUS kidney failure).
Brendan and Ryan, attorneys on our food litigation team, filed a suit against The Chicken and Rice Guys, LLC, on April 18, 2017, on behalf of a man who ordered a “Rice Plate” with Halal chicken, rice, pita, and lettuce from the Allston restaurant. He was later diagnosed with E. coli food poisoning.
An outbreak involving 7 people from 4 states has been linked to ground beef produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts. The states involved include: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (3), Pennsylvania (1), and West Virginia (1). Traceback investigations found that ground beef eaten by the outbreak victims prior to illness had come from Adams Farm Slaughterhouse, according to the CDC.
Our law firm filed a lawsuit against Carbòn Live Fire Mexican Grill in Chicago on behalf of a woman who contracted food poisoning in an outbreak that has sickened at least 65 people. At least 20 of those patients were hospitalized because their illness was so severe. We are also representing several more people sickened in this outbreak.
Our law firm filed a second lawsuit against Pizza Ranch on behalf of a young girl who contracted an infection after eating at a Pizza Ranch on December 31, 2015. A few days after the meal she started throwing up and developed bloody diarrhea. Her parents brought her to the hospital where the doctor ordered a stool culture. The culture came back positive for E.coli O157:H7. While hospitalized, she developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life threatening complication.
Our law firm is investigating an E. coli outbreak in Minnesota and Wisconsin. At least 7 people were sickened in this outbreak in Minnesota and 2 were sickened in Wisconsin. The CDC and state health officials have determined that one of the likely sources of the outbreak is alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & the Green Sprouts, a Wisconsin company.
Our law firm is representing several people sickened at Chipotle restaurants in 2015. These 2015 outbreaks are over, but you may still be able to sue for compensation if your case can be linked to one of the restaurants. Contact our lawyers using our free consultation form.
Attorney Ryan Osterholm is representing people sickened in the 2015 Costco E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to a celery and diced onion blend produced by Taylor Farms and used to prepare Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad and other products. Again, the outbreak is over, but you should contact Ryan to see if you can still sue.
Some of our other recent lawsuits include the following:
- Chipotle for E. coli O26;
- Costco Chicken Salad Lawsuit;
- E. coli and HUS from the Red River Valley Fair;
- Learning Vine Daycare;
- Applebees Restaurant.
Our attorneys practice extensively in the area of E. coli food poisoning litigation. These cases are won with scientific evidence. Any attorney handling these cases needs to understand the epidemiology, microbiology, and biochemistry involved in finding the source of a foodborne outbreak and determining which patients are part of the outbreak.
Class Action Suit
Contrary to the belief of most people, class action lawsuits rarely apply to personal injury claims like E. coli food poisoning. That’s because these claims have “individual” issues not shared by other people. For example, the amount of money to which a claimant is entitled varies widely based on age, level of disability, wage loss, medical expenses, etc. Because of of these individual issues, a class action lawsuit is probably not appropriate for outbreak claims.
Health Department and CDC Investigations
For lawsuit purposes, it is valuable to have a state health department and/or the CDC determine that a person with an E. coli infection is part of a foodborne outbreak. This can be used as evidence in court that:
- The person was part of an outbreak;
- The restaurant, grocery store, food processor, and/or other party linked to the outbreak is liable for damages.
Microbiological and Epidemiological Evidence
To determine who is part of an E. coli outbreak and find the source of an outbreak, health officials use microbiology and epidemiology. The microbiological and epidemiological evidence gathered by a health department or the CDC can be used in a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the contamination of the food product and the sale and distribution of the contaminated product.
The microbiology is a series of tests on stool samples, food, and environmental swabs.
Initial tests determine if the bacteria is E. coli O157:H7. If so, additional tests are conducted to determine the DNA fingerprint. Bacteria with the same or very similar “DNA fingerprint” likely came from the same source.
The epidemiology is the analysis of interviews with ill people and their families. Health officials ask where the sick person has been, what he or she ate, and other questions that will point to a source of the outbreak.
Then the data is analyzed to find connections. Did those sickened eat at the same restaurant or cafeteria, buy groceries at the same supermarket, or attend the same event at a hotel, country club, school or church? Did they eat the same food product: ground beef, raw milk, cheese, lettuce, apples?
A series of events occurs between the time a patient is infected and the time public health officials can determine that the patient is part of an outbreak. This means that there will be a delay between the start of illness and confirmation that a patient is part of an outbreak. The time from the beginning of the patient’s illness to the confirmation that he or she was part of an outbreak is typically about 2 to 3 weeks.
States where our lawyers have handled cases: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
You can sue a grower, food processor, distributor, restaurant, retailer (grocery store or big-box like Walmart, Sam’s Club or Costco), school (illness from cafeteria food), caterer, convention center, hotel, nursing home, etc., depending on the facts of your case. We look at every step from farm to fork to determine who you can sue, and it is usually more than one company.