A Marengo couple is suing for illness that sent husband and wife seeking emergency care

Tammi and Roger Steffen of Marengo, Iowa, are suing Big G after becoming sickened with Salmonella from potato salad produced by the defendant. The Steffens illnesses were so severe they both required emergency medical care. The couple has filed a lawsuit for damages caused by the illness, from which they are still in recovery. They are represented by Wandro & Associates, P.C., of Des Moines, Iowa, and Marler Clark LLP, the Food Safety Law Firm, based in Seattle.

On July 10, 2016, the Steffens purchased and refrigerated potato salad from Big G. Two days later, on July 12, they ate the salad for dinner. Just 24 hours later, both Tammi and Roger were suffering from the intense stomach and intestinal pain typical of Salmonella poisoning. On the 14th, both husband and wife were forced to leave work early due to their symptoms, and began suffering from chills, fever, agonizing cramps, and repeated bouts of diarrhea.

By Friday, a nurses’ hotline recommended they go to the ER, as their illness was intensifying. On Saturday morning at the ER, Roger passed out due to the severity of his symptoms. They received treatment and prescriptions, and went home after a few hours at the hospital.

Not until after they arrived at home, received a diagnosis of Salmonella infection, and continued to battle their symptoms, did they realize the culprit. In late July, the Iowa Departments of Public Health (IDPH) and Inspections and Appeals (IDIA) issued a consumer advisory for Big G’s potato salad, as it has been linked to various cases of Salmonella.  Big G issued a voluntary recall soon after. The Steffens continue to suffer from their symptoms, though recovery is ongoing.

“Though the company recalled the products, the damage was done for the Steffen family,” said Bill Marler of Marler Clark, LLC. “Food safety depends on companies taking proactive steps to protect their customers before people become ill. The goal shouldn’t be timely recalls, but to ensure they aren’t necessary at all.”

Salmonella is the second most common foodborne illness in the United States. Approximately 1.4 million cases of Salmonella occur each year with 95% of those caused by tainted food. The acute symptoms of Salmonella include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea and mucous over a period of days. While there is no cure, infected persons usually recover completely, although it may take months. A small number of people experience ongoing symptoms such as joint pain, which can lead to chronic arthritis.