Bill Marler, food safety advocate and attorney, whose Seattle law firm, Marler Clark, has been retained by victims of the E. coli O26 outbreak traced to the Jimmy John’s sprout outbreak, called today on Jimmy John’s to pay the medical bills of all individuals who became ill with E. coli O26 infections as part of the outbreak. According to the CDC, at least twenty-five people became ill with E. coli O26 infections after eating at Jimmy John’s restaurants in Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, Arkansas, Ohio and Wisconsin. Marler has file two lawsuits in Iowa to date and is planning on filing a third lawsuit in Michigan next week.
“The cost of treating victims of E. coli infections can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, or in a severe case, even in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These families need Jimmy John’s to do more than promise to cooperate in the investigation into this outbreak. They need to know that Jimmy John’s intends to fulfill its corporate responsibility by looking out for its customers,” Marler said.
In the past four years Jimmy John’s has been linked to four other sprouts related foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2008, at least 28 E. coli O157:NM cases were linked to alfalfa sprouts sold at Colorado Jimmy John’s restaurants. In 2009, 256 people became ill in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas after consuming Salmonella contaminated sprouts at multiple locations including Jimmy John’s. In 2010, multiple state and federal health authorities linked 140 Salmonella serotype I 4,5,12,i- ; cases to alfalfa and spicy sprouts used in Jimmy John’s sandwiches in 16 states as well as 7 ill in 2010 in Oregon and Washington linked to Salmonella serotype Newport – tainted sprouts.
Marler noted that in other outbreak-situations companies such as Chi-Chi’s, Dole, Jack in the Box, Con Agra, Odwalla and Sheetz advanced medical costs for outbreak victims whose illnesses were traced to their food products.