Seattle, Wa., Dec. 23, 2019 — An E. coli lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Division, Cause No. 1:19-cv-01886, on behalf of S.G.N, a minor against Fresh Express Inc. S.G.N is represented by Marler Clark, the Seattle-based, food safety law firm. 01 – Nuthals – Complaint
S.G.N’s parents purchased and consumed a bag of chopped Fresh Express brand Leafy Green Romaine lettuce from Festival Foods. S.G.N’s symptom onset occurred on or about November 15, 2019, and included abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, which soon turned bloody. Plaintiff’s condition continued to deteriorate, and he sought medical care at Bellin Hospital on November 19 and again on November 25. S.G.N was hospitalized on November 26 and remained hospitalized until December 4, 2019. S.G.N developed acute kidney failure (HUS) caused by E. coli O157:H7. S.G.N continues to recover from her E. coli infection.
As of December 19, Wisconsin has 33 cases linked to the outbreak. Of these, fourteen people have been hospitalized and 2 have developed acute kidney failure. On December 6, Wisconsin health officials found E. coli O157:H7 in an unopened bag of chopped Fresh Express brand Leafy Green Romaine salad.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of December 19. 2019, 138 people infected with an outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 25 states, and 2 cases have been reported in Canada. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicate that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region is the likely source of this outbreak. CDC has advised that consumers not eat, and retailers not sell any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California, growing region. This includes all use-by dates and brands of romaine lettuce from this region. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health departments continue to trace the source of the romaine lettuce eaten by ill people. Investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness. This outbreak is caused by the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens in 2017 and to romaine lettuce in 2018.
The FDA and CDC have reported three E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the last month. The first outbreak, linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California, region, has already affected about 138 people across 25 states and two Canadians. The second outbreak originates from Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits that has sickened over two dozen in the US and Canada. The third outbreak is associated with romaine lettuce from Washington state restaurant chain Evergreens that has sickened at least thirteen.
Currently, the tracebacks on all three outbreaks have identified a common grower in Salinas. The FDA has not yet announced the name of that grower.
E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with lettuce and other leafy greens are by no means a new phenomenon. Outlined below is a list of E. coli outbreaks involving contaminated lettuce or leafy greens in the past decade:
|Sept. 2009||Lettuce: Romaine or Iceberg||E. coli O157:H7||29||Multistate|
|Sept. 2009||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||10||Multistate|
|April 2010||Romaine||E. coli O145||33||5:MI, NY, OH, PA, TN|
|Oct. 2011||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||60||Multistate|
|April 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||28||
|June 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||52||Multistate|
|Sept. 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||9||1:PA|
|Oct. 2012||Spinach and Spring Mix Blend||E. coli O157:H7||33||Multistate|
|Apr. 2013||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||14||Multistate|
|Aug. 2013||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||15||1:PA|
|Oct. 2013||Ready-To-Eat Salads||E. coli O157:H7||33||Multistate|
|Apr. 2014||Romaine||E. coli O126||4||1:MN|
|Apr. 2015||Leafy Greens||E. coli O145||7||3:MD, SC, VA|
|June 2016||Mesclun Mix||E. coli O157:H7||11||3:IL, MI, WI|
|Nov. 2017||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||67||Multistate and Canada|
|Mar. 2018||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||219||Multistate and Canada|
|Nov. 2018||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||88||Multistate and Canada|
|Sept. 2019||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||23||Multistate|
|Nov. 2019||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||104||Multistate and Canada|
Escherichia coli are the name of a common family of bacteria, most members of which do not cause human disease. E. coli O157:H7 is a specific member of this family that can cause bloody diarrhea (hemorrhagic colitis) in humans. In the years since E. coli O157:H7 was first identified as a cause of diarrhea, this bacterium has established a reputation as a significant public health hazard.
E. coli O157:H7 lives in the intestines of cattle and other ruminants. E. coli O157:H7 is also notable among pathogenic bacteria for its extremely low infectious dose—that is, the number of bacteria necessary to induce infection in a person. While for most pathogenic bacteria it takes literally millions of bacterial colonies to cause illness, it is now known that fewer than 50 E. coli O157:H7 bacteria can cause illness in a child. The practical import is that even a microscopic amount of exposure can trigger a devastating infection.
The most severe cases of the E. coli O157:H7 infection occur in young children and in the elderly, presumably because the immune systems in those age populations are the most vulnerable. After a susceptible individual ingests E. coli O157:H7, the bacteria attach to the inside surface of the large intestine and initiates an inflammatory reaction of the intestine. What ultimately results is the painful bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps characteristic of the intestinal illness.
The mean incubation period (time from ingestion to the onset of symptoms) of E. coli O157:H7 is estimated to be two to four days (range, 1-21 days). Typically, a patient with an acute E. coli O157:H7 infection presents with abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. The duration of diarrhea in children with E. coli O157:H7 infections are significantly longer than that of adults.
E. coli O157:H7 can produce a wide spectrum of disease from mild, non-bloody diarrhea, to severe bloody diarrhea accompanied by excruciating abdominal pain to life-threatening complications. In most infected individuals, the intestinal illness lasts about a week and resolves without any long-term effects. Antibiotics do not appear to aid in combating these infections, and recent medical studies suggest that antibiotics are contraindicated for their risk of provoking more serious complications. Apart from good supportive care, which should include close attention to hydration and nutrition, there is no specific therapy.
About 10% of individuals with E. coli O157:H7 infections (mostly young children) go on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe, potentially life-threatening complication. The essence of the syndrome is described by its three central features: destruction of red blood cells, destruction of platelets (those blood cells responsible for clotting), and acute renal failure due to the formation of micro-thrombi that occlude microscopic blood vessels that make up the filtering units within the kidneys.
There is no known therapy to halt the progression of HUS. The active stage of the disease usually lasts one to two weeks, during which a variety of complications are possible. HUS is a frightening illness that even in the best American medical facilities has a mortality rate of about 5%. The majority of HUS patients require transfusion of blood products and develop complications common to the critically ill.
About Marler Clark
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 $650 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.