Jimmy John’s E. coli Food Poisoning Outbreak in Denver, CO

Pritzker Hageman attorneys, who recently won $4.5 million for an E. coli food poisoning victim, are now investigating the Jimmy John’s E. coli outbreak in Denver, Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the CDC and the FDA are also investigating.

DNA fingerprinting of E. coli bacteria is done with pulsed-filed gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Basically, the DNA of bacterial isolates are cut into pieces using special enzymes. These pieces are separated based on size, creating a DNA fingerprint (PFGE pattern). Each outbreak has its own PFGE pattern.  Patients sickened by E. coli with this pattern are part of the outbreak. If E. coli with this pattern is found in food or environmental samples, it is “smoking gun” evidence against a food processor, restaurant or other company. However, it is not necessary for E. coli bacteria to be found at an implicated restaurant for victims to have claims against the company (to have the right to sue the company for money damages).

“When fresh produce is the source of an outbreak, as is suspected in this outbreak, there is rarely product that has not been eaten or thrown out to test for contamination,” said E. coli Attorney Fred Pritzker. “This does not preclude victims of these outbreaks from obtaining full and fair compensation for their illnesses.”

Compensation for these cases includes amounts for severe complications like hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Fred’s recent $4.5 million lawsuit settlement was for a young woman who ate food at a restaurant that was contaminated with E. coli. She developed HUS and suffered kidney failure and other health problems.

All eight cases were reported between October 18th and 22nd, and all of the people impacted ate at Jimmy John’s between October 7th and 15th, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.“We believe that their illness came from a produce item that was on those sandwiches that they ate,” said Alicia Cronquit, an epidemiologist with the department.

Cronquist has gone on record as saying that the department does not believe the restaurants are at fault. Legally, though, Jimmy John’s restaurants are responsible for any illnesses caused by their food.  In cases where restaurants are associated with an outbreak, the restaurant can be sued, even if there is not negligence. This is because when one purchases food from a restaurant, the restaurant is warranting that the food is fit to eat. If the food is contaminated with a dangerous pathogen like E. coli, it is not fit to eat, and the restaurant has breached this warranty.

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Last year a Jimmy John’s E. coli outbreak in Michigan was linked to sprouts.

Other E. coli and HUS Outbreaks Associated with Restaurants

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Category: Food Poisoning
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