Yes, if you are part of the outbreak of E. coli food poisoning linked to Trader Joe’s Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, you may have the right to sue Trader Joe’s and others, including Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, the California company that made the salads. There are at least 2 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in this outbreak. HUS is a complication of an E. coli infection that causes kidney failure (renal failure) and a host of other health problems, including but not limited to, seizures, stroke, heart failure and pancreatitis.
“Grocery stores that sell ready-to-eat products like packaged salads and wraps are often legally responsible for illnesses caused by those products, even if it is never determined what specific item in the salad was contaminated,” said Fred Pritzker, a national E. coli lawyer who recently won $4.5 million for an E. coli-HUS victim. “This varies by state, though, so it is important for outbreak victims and their families to contact an E. coli lawyer about their case.”
You are part of the outbreak if you are diagnosed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. For this to happen, you need to have a doctor take a stool sample and send it to your local health department for testing. There are three stages to the testing:
- A test to determine if you were sickened by an E. coli bacteria;
- A test to determine if the E. coli subtype was O157:H7;
- A test to find the DNA fingerprint of the bacteria, a process called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
According to Fred, PFGE testing is a critical step in connecting an illness to an outbreak.
“Every outbreak has its own PFGE pattern, a genetic fingerprint created by cutting up DNA from an E. coli cell and separating it by size,” said Fred. “If you were sickened by E. coli with the same PFGE pattern as someone else, you were both sickened by the same source. This is true even if hundreds of people from different states were sickened by E. coli bacteria with the same PFGE pattern. PFGE is also used to find the food source of the outbreak.”
You can contact Fred for a free consultation (click here now) if you know you or your child is part of the outbreak or if you have E. coli symptoms, including severe abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea, or symptoms of HUS kidney failure, primarily low or no urine output, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), extreme weakness and seizures. HUS can develop very quickly, so seek medical attention as soon as you suspect an E. coli infection or kidney failure. Also, the CDC recommends not using antibiotics for E. coli infections because there is evidence that these medications cause HUS.
To date there are 26 confirmed cases in 3 states: Arizona (1), California (22), and Washington (3).