The following is a testimonial from one of our clients—the father of a young girl who contracted E. coli O157:H7 poisoning and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) from a seasonal pumpkin patch business where children could also pet and feed cows. Due to operator negligence, the child suffered a life-threatening illness that caused severe kidney damage and permanently changed her life. Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Brendan Flaherty of our law firm took the case to a jury and won a $7.55 million verdict. This is believed to be the biggest E. coli verdict in American history.
When I think back about how we chose a lawyer, we had lots of family and friends who researched this area of the law and we came up with a few different lawyers to contact. We wanted to feel comfortable with someone who had a reputation for taking cases to trial and winning big verdicts.
Fred came out personally to meet with us. He took the time to sit down and talk with us and to tell us how things work. He has a real knowledge base on these types of injuries and when he doesn’t know the answers, he sure knows how to find out. The way he approached the subject matter reinforced for us what we had read about him and his firm.
Fred and Brendan and the whole firm did a fantastic job of putting the case together. It’s a real team that works together, and it wasn’t just one or two people on the case. We were introduced to many people at the firm and they were all working for the best outcome on our behalf.
We felt like Fred had a genuine concern for the well-being of our daughter in mind.
One of the questions we had was about future medical expenses and how could we face them.
Like a lot of medical expenses you really don’t know what is going to hit you. You can guess and estimate some of the costs, but Fred and Brendan had access to reliable information. From experience, they definitely had a great understanding for how those things play out.
But it wasn’t all about money in the end. Nothing about this case could have brought back anything in terms of our daughter’s health. When the facts of the case started to unfold and we were told how negligent the operators were, we were pretty upset. There was a lot of anger and a large part of this case was about delivering a message.
I think certainly there was a loud and clear message to people who run these operations that you better take some precautions to protect the people who visit your business. We had no idea that the place was out of control.
(Six other people who visited the pumpkin patch around the same time also fell ill.
Evidence showed there was manure in the enclosure where the cows were kept and also on the hay, the cows’ hides and hooves, and the gate that separated the children from the cows. Despite this, the owners took no precautions and provided hand sanitizer only at a concession stand. In addition, the operators provided no warnings to patrons about the risk of life-threatening pathogens on the premises.)
During the course of this case, the firm was good at breaking down the law to a level where we understood what was going on as it was happening. And I always felt if we had questions that weren’t answered, we could email back and forth and settle any confusion.
We felt well informed when making decisions and Fred gave us room to make those calls. When it came to the trial, he was honest and said there is a chance it won’t work out. Some things that seem obvious — open and shut — might not be to a jury.
At trial, the lawyers were fantastic. When Fred had the owners of the pumpkin patch on the witness stand, I felt like he was speaking for me. He was holding them accountable. He was fighting our fight at that point and he did a really good job. Fred said what needed to be said and made my wife and I feel like there was some justice and accountability.