Plaintiffs fell ill with E. coli infections after eating at Ambassel Restaurant in Seattle’s Central District.

An E. coli lawsuit was filed today against Ambassel Restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant located in Seattle’s Central District that was identified as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among restaurant patrons in February.  The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court on behalf of two Seattle women who fell ill with E. coli infections after eating at the restaurant by Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs Sarah Schacht and Alison Cardinal dined at Ambassell restaurant on February 8 and February 15, respectively.  Both women fell ill with symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection, including bloody diarrhea, within 5 days of eating at the restaurant and sought medical care.  Both women submitted stool samples that court documents say later returned positive for a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was indistinguishable from the strain isolated from other E. coli outbreak victims’ stool samples.

“It’s sad and more than a little ironic that this is Sarah Schacht’s second E. coli infection—she was one of over 700 people who fell ill with E. coli infections after eating a hamburger from Jack in the Box in 1993,” said her attorney, William Marler, who noted that Sarah became a vegetarian after falling ill with an E. coli infection almost exactly 20 years ago at the age of 13.

Ambassel restaurant was closed by the Seattle-King County Public Health Department on March 6, 2013 after the agency determined that food served at the restaurant had caused the E. coli outbreak.  During an inspection of the restaurant, the health department cited Ambassel for multiple critical food safety violations, including bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, inadequate hand washing facilities and improper cleaning/sanitizing of food contact surfaces used for raw and ready-to-eat foods.  According to inspection reports available online, Ambassel had been cited for inadequate hand washing facilities—a critical food-safety violation—5 times since 2010.

“How can a restaurant owner or operator expect to serve safe food if employees don’t have the proper facilities to wash their hands?” Marler concluded.

Marler and his law firm, Marler Clark, have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illnesses in the 20 years since the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.  The lawyers have recovered over $600 million for victims of foodborne illnesses such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.