Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm dedicated to representing victims of E. coli and other foodborne illnesses, is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a Michigan State University student who was hospitalized with an E. coli O26 infection.  This is the third lawsuit filed by Marler Clark in connection with an E. coli outbreak linked to sprouts sold at Jimmy John’s restaurants earlier this year.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an investigation into an E. coli O26 outbreak linked Jimmy Johns.  The investigation revealed the source of the outbreak to be clover sprouts used as sandwich toppings.  The CDC report indicates that at least 25 people have been confirmed ill in 8 states, including 9 in Michigan. 

According to a complaint to be filed in Ingham County Circuit Court, Alexsandra Shalayko, a Michigan State University student, purchased and consumed a “Turkey Tom” sandwich containing clover sprouts from a local Jimmy John’s restaurant on February 4, 2012.  By February 7, Ms. Shalayko began experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms that persisted over the next several days.  On February 10, her pain continued to worsen and Ms. Shalayko was taken to the emergency room where a CT scan showed severe inflammation of the large intestine.  She was then admitted to the hospital, where she was informed that she had tested positive for an E. coli O26 infection.  The lawsuit states that since her discharge from the hospital on February 13, Ms. Shalayko, who is in her freshman year, but is academically a Junior, continues to recover from her E. coli infection.

“In America, you don’t expect these types of things to happen.  When you think of food poisoning, you anticipate some discomfort, but this was far more painful than I could’ve imagined,” said Shalayko. “I feel fortunate to have had the means to seek medical treatment.  Others without health insurance that are victims of foodborne illness may not be so lucky.”

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 over the past four years. Though the company stood by its use of sprouts in the past, this outbreak has prompted Jimmy John’s to permanently end the use of the product.

“In one sense, you could say that the free market pressure of bad publicity and lawsuits has finally worked,” said Shalayko’s attorney, William Marler, in reference to the chain’s decision to remove sprouts from menus.  “But frankly, it’s no secret that Jimmy John’s has long had a sprouts problem.  For the sake of those sickened, I would have liked to see the company stop serving sprouts after its first outbreak.”