bolognaecoli.jpgLawsuits typically flow from outbreaks of foodborne disease, and the Palmyra bologna E. coli outbreak will probably be no exception.  North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and Ohio, in addition to Pennsylvania, all have residents who have no doubt incurred substantial expense, not to mention significant physical anguish, as a result of contaminated bologna and E. coli.  Here are some stories and outbreaks from folks who have, unfortunately, been there before.

Dole baby spinach E. coli outbreak 2006: 2006 was a monumental year for leafy green safety, beginning with the spinach outbreak that sickened more than 200 people nationally (including multiple residents of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey, and North Carolina), and causing more than 30 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and 5 deaths. The outbreak began in late August 2006 and, ultimately, 13 bags of Dole baby spinach tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 and other strains of E. coli. One of the outbreak strains of E. coli was found at the Paicines Ranch in San Benito County, California in a sample of wild pig feces.

June Dunning was a victim of the spinach E. coli outbreak.  She lived with her daughter and son in law in Hagerstown, Maryland.  Right up until the time of her death, Ms. Dunning remained an active, self-aware and outgoing woman. Her health had always been good too. On August 28, 2006, June Dunning consumed some Dole baby spinach from a bag her daughter had purchased at the local grocery seven days earlier. The bag would later test positive for E. coli O146:H21.  June ultimately died as a result of her illness.  We were honored to have represented her family in a case against Dole and others involved in the production and sale of the product that took her life. 

Taco Bell lettuce E. coli outbreak in 2006: This outbreak began in November 2006 and ended up sickening residents of Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Investigators initially suspected green, and then white, onions as the cause of the outbreak. In fact, a sample of the white onions tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, but the strain was determined to have been different from the E. coli strain that caused people to become ill in the outbreak. Ultimately, epidemiological evidence established that shredded lettuce was the cause of the outbreak.

Cargill Ground Beef E. coli Outbreak:  A multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 began in August and led to the eventual recall of 845,000 pounds of Cargill ground beef. In early October, Minnesota health department officials noticed a cluster of three E. coli O157:H7 cases with the same pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) genetic pattern. Interviews with the case-patients found a common exposure of Cargill hamburger. Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Tennessee also had victims with matching PFGE patterns and exposure to Cargill hamburger. Sam’s Club stores was a major purchaser of the Cargill frozen hamburgers.

The Cargill ground beef outbreak was the outbreak that sickened Stephanie Smith and John Mcdonald.  Stephanie’s story inspired a Pullitzer Prize winning article by Michael Moss in the New York TimesJohn Mcdonald’s story simply inspired a lot of people because he survived it.  We were honored to have represented these families in their cases against food giant Cargill. 

Here are a few others that we have been involved in over the last few years: