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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Marler Clark Files 4th Lawsuit Against SoyNut Butter Company and Dixie Dew Products over Nationwide E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

Plaintiffs in most recent complaint are parents of minor child who developed Hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening complication of E. coli infection

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Seattle-area parents of a young child who was sickened after eating E. coli O157:H7 contaminated product sold by The SoyNut Butter Company of Illinois. This is the fourth lawsuit filed connected to the SoyNut Butter outbreak, but the first to directly name the product’s manufacturer: Dixie Dew Products of Erlanger, Kentucky. Up until recently, neither the FDA nor SoyNut Butter Company would not disclose the name of the product’s manufacturer. The family is being represented by Newland & Newland, LLP as well as Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark, LLP, PS. The case number is 1:17-cv-02138.

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs are Travis and Morgan Stuller, who are parents to a child identified as L.S. in the complaint. In the days leading up to L.S.’s illness, she regularly consumed SoyNut Butter manufactured and sold by Dixie Dew Products and SoyNut Butter Company, respectively.

On or about February 21, 2017, L.S. developed painful gastrointestinal symptoms, which worsened to include grossly bloody diarrhea. She was seen by her treating physician for ongoing symptoms, but, on March 5, was hospitalized at Seattle Children’s Hospital and remained so until March 8. While in the hospital, an illness of E. coli O157:H7 was confirmed and she was treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening condition.

L.S. continues to recover at home, but faces uncertain future medical complications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 16 people from nine states have so far been confirmed as infected with the strain of E. coli O157:H7 connected to the SoyNut Butter outbreak. Like L.S., 14 of the 16 ill people in this outbreak are under the age of 18 and eight have required hospitalization. The affected states include includes Arizona (4), California (4), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (2), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (1).  That number is expected to increase in the coming days.

While The SoyNut Butter Company has issued a voluntary recall of affected products, the FDA and CDC, along with state and local health officials, continue to investigate the outbreak. The recall includes I.M. Healthy Original Creamy SoyNut Butter with a Best By date of 08-30-18 or 08-31-18 as well as Granola and Dixie Diner’s Club Brand Carb Not Beanit Butter.

“The scope of this outbreak is much larger than originally believed, affecting a number of brand names. Early on, SoyNut Butter Company was allowed to not disclose the name of the original manufacturer,” said Bill Marler of Marler Clark, LLP. “This calls into question the integrity of not only the products sold by SoyNut Butter Company, but all of those manufactured by Dixie Dew Products. Are there other related products on the shelf right now that could make people sick?”

An estimated 73,000 cases of E. coli O157:H7 occur each year in the United States. Approximately 2,000 people are hospitalized, and 60 people die as a direct result of E. coli O157:H7 infections and complications, including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and kidney failure. Symptoms of E. coli include the sudden onset of abdominal pain and severe cramps, followed by watery, sometimes bloody, diarrhea. Vomiting can also occur, but there is usually no fever.

A severe, life-threatening complication of E. coli O157:H7 is Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Although most people recover from this infection, about 5-10% of infected individuals goes on to develop HUS. E. coli O157:H7 is responsible for over 90% of the cases of HUS that develop in North America. To learn more about HUS, please visit http://www.about-hus.com.

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.