On June 6, 2008, Mari Tardiff began to experience acute diarrhea and vomiting, which eventually gave way to a searing pain in her legs. The night of June 12th, Mari went to bed after soaking her legs in hot water to get some temporary relief, and awoke to find she could not move her legs. She was admitted to the hospital, where the paralysis began to spread to the rest of her body. Despite being unable to move, she continued to feel intense pain instead of the numbness usually experienced by victims of paralysis.
Doctors eventually diagnosed Mari with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a severe complication of Campylobacter infection in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Mari’s case was linked to those of others who had developed Campylobacter infections from drinking raw milk produced by Alexandre EcoDairy Farms, a “cow-share” program in California. Sixteen other people, including one EcoDairy worker, were also infected with Campylobacter from the unpasteurized milk.
Mari, a public health nurse who had always maintained a healthy lifestyle by eating organic foods and exercising often, had taken what turned out to be a devastating risk in eating a food she thought would be beneficial to her health.
Mari spent almost six months in the hospital and in rehabilitation facilities, where she slowly learned to breathe again without a ventilator, and began to regain some of her speech and motion. She now lives at home in her family room, which has been outfitted with the equipment she needs, such as a hospital bed, stand-up frame, and Hoyer lift. It is unclear whether she will ever walk again.
Marler Clark represented Mari and successfully resolved her case in November, 2009.
Read more about the Alexandre EcoDairy Farms Campylobacter outbreak and the litigation that followed.