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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

No Source Yet in Kentucky E. coli Outbreak

As of Tuesday, four Kentucky children remain hospitalized after suffering E. coli O157:H7 infections. The cluster of cases is being investigated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department based in Elizabethtown and the Kentucky State Department of Health.

According to news reports, the first illness was reported in mid-August. Health Department Public Information Officer Wendy Keown says investigators are trying to determine if there is a common cause.  There is a possibility of a sixth case as well.

“We thoroughly investigate activities such as recent travel, exposure to animals, food histories. You know, have they been swimming anywhere? And try to find any commonality between those to determine a source.  As of right now, there has not been a confirmed source of infection identified,” said Keown.

The children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder.  The children range in age from 18 months to six years.

Keown says they are suffering kidney related problems. She says three of the children are from Hardin County and one each from Oldham and Boone Counties.

It’s possible they are not tied together, but Keown says that’s not likely.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

Bill Marler – E. coli Attorney and Lawyer

An accomplished attorney and national expert in food safety, William (Bill) Marler has become the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world .  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life altering injury and even death.

He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the company.  The 2011 book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat, by best-selling author Jeff Benedict, chronicles the Jack in the Box outbreak and the rise of Bill Marler as a food safety attorney.

For the last 20 years, he has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States.  He has filed lawsuits against such companies as Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Cargill, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald’s, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, securing over $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illnesses.

Among the most notable cases he has litigated, Bill counts those of nineteen-year-old dancer Stephanie Smith, who was sickened by an E. coli-contaminated hamburger that left her brain damaged and paralyzed, and Linda Rivera, a fifty-seven-year-old mother of six from Nevada, who was hospitalized for over 2 years after she was stricken with what her doctor described as “the most severe multi-organ [bowel, kidney, brain, lung, gall bladder, and pancreas] case of E. coli mediated HUS I have seen in my extensive experience.”

New York Times reporter Michael Moss won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Smith’s case, which was settled by Cargill in 2010 for an amount “to care for her throughout her life.” Linda’s story hit the front page of the Washington Post and became Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s touchstone for successfully moving forward the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010.

Bill Marler’s advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims’ organizations, and helping spur the passage of the 2010-2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

At little or no cost to event organizers, Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding it.  He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety, and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the nation.

He is a frequent writer on topics related to foodborne illness.  Bill’s articles include “Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to Determine the Strength of a Foodborne Illness Claim”, “Food Claims and Litigation”, “How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety”, and “How to Document a Food Poisoning Case” (co-authored with David Babcock.)  He is the publisher of the online news site, Food Safety News and his award winning blog, www.marlerblog.com is avidly read by the food safety and legal communities. He is frequent media guest on food safety issues and has been profiled in numerous publications.

In 2010 Bill was awarded the NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Education and in 2008 earned the Outstanding Lawyer Award by the King County Bar Association.  He has also received the Public Justice Award from the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

Severe E. coli Illnesses in Oregon, Washington and Kentucky

t has been a very hard week in the Pacific Northwest as we have heard about two youngsters killed by E. coli O157:H7 and at least two others severely sickened with potentially life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  Families and health investigators are trying to find any possible connection and explanation for what has happened.

Aubrie Utter, age 3 – Hospitalized for a week, HUS, 5 blood transfusions

Brad Sutton, age 5 – Still hospitalized, HUS, Dialysis

Serena Profitt, age 4 – HUS, Death

Brooklyn Hoksbergen, age 3 – HUS, Death

And, then there are the five young Kentucky children, or more, being treated at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville for HUS, and the state health department has launched an investigation into how they got sick. Three of the sick children are from Hardin County, one is from Oldham County and one is from Boone County.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

Salmonella Tomatoes Again

Taylor Farms is issuing a recall of some lots of tomatoes and salad kits that include them because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Taylor Farms of Tracy issued the voluntary recall Saturday night for Expo Fresh Roma tomatoes shipped to Costco locations in Los Angeles and Hawthorne in California, Tacoma and Lynwood in Washington, and Las Vegas in Nevada. Only tomatoes listed as packed on September 5 or September 6 are affected.

The recall also includes Sicilian Vegetable Salad served at deli counters at Safeway, Vons and Pavilions grocery stores in California, Nevada and Arizona with use-by dates of September 20 and September 21. The kits for the salad contained the tomatoes.

The company says the Salmonella was found in routine testing. No illnesses have yet been reported.