Our lawyers filed the first lawsuit against Pizza Ranch today, March 17, 2016, on behalf of the family of S.S., a 7-year-old girl from Kansas who was sickened in an E. coli outbreak associated with eating at a Pizza Ranch restaurant. Our young client is one of 13 people from 9 states sickened in the outbreak: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The suit was filed today, March 17, 2016, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (Case No. 2:16-cv-02170).
The lawsuit alleges that on January 31, 2016, the family of S.S. ate at the Pizza Ranch in Emporia, Kansas. S.S. ate food from the buffet including, but not limited to fried chicken, pizza, breadsticks, salad, and dessert pizza. A few days after this meal, S.S. began to feel ill. She had stomach cramps and then developed bloody diarrhea.
The parents of S.S. brought her to her pediatrician, who ordered a stool sample, which tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. S.S. was hospitalized fore over 2 weeks. During her hospital stay, S.S. developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infections that is the most common cause of acute renal failure (ARF) in children and may also cause ARF in adults. Characteristic features of the syndrome are microangiopathic anemia, thrombotic thrombocytopenia, and renal (kidney) failure.
The Kansas Department of Health test results revealed that S.S. had contracted E. coli O157:H7 with a PFGE pattern that matched infections suffered by 12 other people. In December 2015, the CDC and other health departments detected a spike in cases caused by E. coli O157:H7 in persons who had eaten at Pizza Ranch restaurants. PFGE testing on samples from 13 ill individuals revealed a common PFGE (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) pattern. Public health officials, including the CDC, then traced the outbreak-causing food to Pizza Ranch restaurants in several states. On March 16, 2016, the CDC confirmed the implicated food as items served at Pizza Ranch, according to the complaint filed in the case.
The illnesses took place between December 2015 and February 2016. Two children, S.S. and another child, were hospitalized with HUS. Dough used to make desserts is the suspected source of the E. coli outbreak. But, health officials have not yet determined how the contamination occurred.