Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm dedicated to representing victims of E. coli and other foodborne illnesses, has filed a second lawsuit [1] in a multistate E. coli outbreak linked to Jimmy John’s. The lawsuit is on behalf of a Polk County, Iowa woman who was hospitalized with her E. coli illness.

On February 15, 2012, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an ongoing investigation of a 12-person E. coli O26 outbreak, including 2 hospitalizations, linked to raw clover sprouts used as sandwich toppings at Jimmy John’s restaurants in Iowa (5 ilnesses), Missouri (3 illnesses), Kansas (2 illnesses), Arkansas (1 illnesses), and Wisconsin (1 illnesses).    

According to a complaint (#CL124573) filed in Polk County District Court, 23-year-old Mollie Horton consumed a sandwich from a Jimmy John’s party platter at a family gathering on December 23, 2011. The sandwich contained sprouts, but Ms. Horton removed them before eating. By December 26, she began experiencing severe gastrointestinal symptoms which persisted until January 5, 2012, when they dramatically worsened and she was rushed to the emergency room where she was treated for pain and severe dehydration. She was then admitted to the hospital where she stayed through January 8. After discharge, her symptoms continued for several weeks. The complaint alleges that testing showed that Ms. Horton’s illness was the result of a genetically identical strain of E. coli O26 linked to the Jimmy John’s sprout outbreak.

The lawsuit further alleges that raw sprouts served at Jimmy John’s have been responsible for four previous E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks that have sickened hundreds of people in the past four years. Though the company had stood by its use of sprouts in the past, this outbreak has prompted Jimmy John’s to permanently end the use of the product.

“On one hand, I’m happy that Jimmy John’s finally pulled sprouts from their menu,” said Horton’s attorney William Marler. “On the other hand, it is disappointing that this wasn’t done earlier, because doing so could have prevented this outbreak.”

Considered a food with higher than average food safety risks, sprouts have been linked to at least 40 foodborne illness outbreaks since 1990. Last year, Marler and his firm donated $10,000 to the International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) to assist in the development of a safer method for the production of sprouts. Marler has recently challenged Jimmy Johns to do the same.

MARLER CLARK is the nation’s leading law firm dedicated to representing victims of E. coli and other foodborne illnesses. The firm’s E. coli attorneys have unmatched experience and have recovered over $600,000,000 for food poisoning victims and their families. For more information or to speak to an attorney, contact Cody Moore at cmoore(at)marlerclark(dot)com or 1-206-407-2200.

[1] Polk County District Court #CL124573