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

Marler Clark Files Second Lawsuit over E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

Attorney Marler Demands that The SoyNut Butter Company and FDA disclose who manufactured the E. coli-tainted Soy Nut Butter

A second lawsuit has been filed against The SoyNut Butter Company of Illinois over an ongoing outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 connected to the company’s SoyNut Butter products. In addition, “John Doe Manufactuer” has been name in an effort to force the disclosure of the actual manufactuer.  The newest plaintiffs are Lisa Leavitt-Garcia and Rolando Garcia, a husband and wife who are residents of Santa Clara County. The couple are being represented by Marler Clark LLP, the Food Safety Law Firm, headquartered in Seattle and Newland & Newland, LLP, based in Illinois. The case number is 1:17-cv-01932.

Lisa and Rolando purchased I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter at Target and Lisa consumed it regularly in the days preceding her E. coli O157:H7 illness.

On or about February 21, 2017, Lisa developed severe and worsening abdominal symptoms. After several visits to doctors on February 23 and 24, Lisa was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose where she remained hospitalized until February 28. While in the hospital, she received a diagnosis of E. coli O157:H7 infection.  While she is now out of the hospital, Lisa continue to recover from her infection and faces uncertain future medical complications.

This most recent lawsuit against The SoyNut Butter Company comes on the heels of an action filed last week by Mosby and Erin Simmons, also of Santa Clara County, on behalf of their young child who was sickened by the company’s I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter.

“What makes an outbreak like this particularly scary is this is a product that has a long shelf life and is very likely to be enjoyed by children, who are particularly susceptible to the worst side effects of an E. coli O157:H7 infection,” said Bill Marler of Marler Clark, LLP.  “The SoyNut Butter Company has admitted that it did not make the Soy Nut Butter implicated in this outbreak, but it and the FDA have not disclosed who did.  The pulic has a right to know this information,” added Marler.

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.

According to the CDC, as of March 7, 2017, a total of 16 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from nine states. The number of those sickened continues to increase in this ongoing outbreak.

The number of ill people identified in state includes Arizona (4), California (4), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (2), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (1). Eight of those sickened have been hospitalized and five have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening type of kidney failure. Fourteen of the 16 illnesses were reported in children under the age of 18. No deaths have been reported.

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.

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.