At least ten people sickened by clover sprouts served at restaurants in Washington and Idaho; plaintiff made ill by sandwich from Jimmy John’s location in Hayden, Idaho

Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, has filed a lawsuit in Kootenai County Court in Idaho on behalf of behalf of a young mother who was hospitalized with an E. coli O121 infection linked to Evergreen Fresh Sprouts served at a Jimmy Johns restaurant, located in Hayden, Idaho. Evergreen Fresh Sprouts and the Jimmy John’s restaurant have been named as defendants in the complaint. Respected Idaho attorney Robie G. Russell will act as co-counsel on the case.

At least ten people have been infected by a dangerous strain of E. coli in Washington and Idaho. An epidemiologic investigation has shown that the contaminated food source is clover sprouts from multiple restaurants, including locations of the Jimmy John’s chain. The clover sprouts were manufactured and distributed by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, a company based in Idaho.

Last week, health officials from both states issued a warning to consumers to avoid raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. Cultures from seven of the infected individuals have shown that the strain of E. coli involved is one of the dangerous shiga-toxin producing strains called E. coli O121.

The plaintiff has tested positive for E. coli O121. Her illness can be traced back to late April when she purchased and consumed a #6 veggie sandwich from a Jimmy John’s restaurant located at 8160 North Cornerstone in Hayden, Idaho. The sandwich contained tainted clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

She began feeling ill around May 6. Her symptoms became so severe that she sought emergency medical treatment at the Kootenai Hospital Medical Center in Coeur d Alene. She was treated with intravenous fluids for rehydration and underwent a CT scan to try and determine the cause of severe gastrointestinal pain.

Soon after being discharged, she was admitted to Sacred Heart, a larger regional medical center in Spokane. She was hospitalized and, ultimately, tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O121 tied to the clover sprouts outbreak from Evergreen Clover Sprouts. She is currently at home recovering from her illness.

E. coli O121 symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. The toxin has an incubation period of 2-8 days.

“What’s truly disheartening in this case is that both Evergreen Fresh Sprouts and Jimmy John’s have been the subject of life-threatening outbreaks before. They both had an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, but clearly have not,” said Bill Marler, Marler Clark managing partner and prolific food safety advocate.

This most current episode is the second time Evergreen Fresh Sprouts has been linked to major outbreak. In 2011, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts issued a recall, but not before 25 people became ill with Salmonella. An FDA investigation resulted in a warning letter to the company, which stated that investigators “documented unsanitary conditions and practices that may have contributed directly or indirectly to contamination of your sprouts with pathogens.” The letter also said the sprouts were considered to be adulterated, as defined by federal law.

Jimmy John’s has had repeated problems with sprouts and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches first dating back to 2008 with additional outbreaks in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Marler resolved five E. coli O26 cases linked to clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s in multiple states.

After these cases, Jimmy John’s made the switch from alfalfa sprouts to clover sprouts. Jimmy John Leitaud himself stated that research shows that clover sprouts don’t have the same contamination risks as alfalfa. The most recent outbreak involves clover sprouts.

“The bottom line is raw sprouts are dangerous and shouldn’t be eaten even with a thorough washing. It’s just best to avoid sprouts altogether,” said Marler.

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 KinerStephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.