Attorneys Ryan Osterholm and Eric Hageman obtained a settlement for a child who contracted an E. coli O157:H7 infection from animal contact at a petting zoo at a county fair. The child developed a severe complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which caused the child’s kidneys to fail. The details of the settlement are confidential.
Last year, our law firm won a $7.55 million verdict against Dehn’s Pumpkins, a business in Dayton, MN, on behalf of another child, E.H. who contracted E. coli-HUS from animal contact.
Today we learned that two children from Wright County, Minnesota, were sickened in the same way. A little girl tragically died, and her brother is fighting for his life.
In the case against Dehn’s Pumpkins, the owners allowed children to pet cows that were being raised on the property. However, on the day our young client visited, there was manure on some of the cows’ hides and on the gate in the interaction area.
The Minnesota Department of Health has tried to address the increase in E. coli outbreaks linked to petting zoos. In December of 2015, it published “Petting Zoo Best Practices Check List” to help owners of these businesses take steps to prevent illness. Having a hand washing station is number one on the list. The best situation is to have running water and soap always available, and to have them be accessible to children. The department also has additional information for animal vendors on its website.
Another serious E. coli outbreak has been linked to Grant’s Farm petting zoo in Missouri in June, 2019. Investigators are still looking into practices that led to the spread of E. coli bacteria in this case.
These safety practices are not required under the law, though, and our law firm is fighting to change that. We are working with the parents of little E.H. to lobby our legislators to take a positive step to protect children from deadly pathogens in animal feces.
Pritzker Hageman is one of a handful of law firms in the United States that has won settlements and verdicts over $5 million for clients sickened by E. coli O157. We have offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota.