The morning of December 21, 2015 attorneys Fred Pritzker and Brendan Flaherty filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Arizona toddler, who suffered from a massive brain abscess caused by a Salmonella Heidelberg bacterial meningitis infection. The suit was in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, case number 2:15-cv-02587-DLR.
About This Lawsuit
The minor, referred to in the complaint as NC, was severely sickened by chicken produced by Foster Farms Inc. during year long Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak from 2013-2014.
NC was first seen by his pediatrician on October 3, 2013 presenting with fever, chills, nasal congestion, and diarrhea. During this initial visit the boy’s mother informed the doctor that two other family members were diagnosed with Salmonella a week prior. The boy returned to the doctor three more times before he was finally admitted on October 23, 2013.
Nearly twenty-four hours later his condition deteriorated rapidly as he developed a facial droop. According to the complaint, a CT of the child’s head and brain showed a large fluid accumulation compressing and displacing his brain. Immediate surgery to cut open his skull and relieve the pressure was necessary to save the boy’s life.
NC’s recovery has been long and difficult. A week after the initial surgery he underwent a second invasive procedure to implant a PICC line. Weeks later at the time of discharge, NC was continued on anti-seizure medication. His discharge orders also included twice daily IV antibiotic infusion treatment for his salmonellosis.
To date MRIs of NC’s brain remain abnormal. The complaint cites the most recent MRI revealed brain atrophy, meaning that there is persistent evidence of brain volume loss.
Earlier this year the boy’s story was featured on a Frontline investigation called The Trouble with Chicken which traced the arc of Foster Farms’ decade-long Salmonella problem.
About This Outbreak
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infections matching one of the seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg began March 1, 2013, and continued through July 11, 2014. The complaint follows a timeline for the outbreak starting with a cluster of Salmonella infections, with a shared PFGE pattern, beginning on June 17, 2013. Eleven days later health officials announced they were starting a multi-state investigation of an outbreak associated with this Salmonella Heidelberg strain, dubbed PFGE Pattern #1. There would ultimately be seven PFGE patterns lumped into 1 CDC investigation.
Over the course of the outbreak 634 people were sickened in 29 states with 38% requiring hospitalization.
Foster Farms was made aware their product was under investigation starting in early July 2013, but it took the company more than a year to “begrudgingly’’ initiated a very limited recall of its tainted chicken on July 12, 2014.
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