Snohomish man files lawsuit after falling severely ill from Salmonella poisoning; more illnesses possible with clusters around Asian restaurants
Snohomish County resident, Nicholas Guzley, will file a lawsuit Monday against Kapowsin Meat, Inc., a slaughterhouse located in Graham, Washington. The plaintiff, who is suing for damages from Salmonella poisoning, is being represented by food safety advocate, William D. Marler, managing attorney at Marler Clark LLP, PS, based in Seattle, Washington. This is the second case Marler Clark has filed in relation to this particular Salmonella outbreak.
On or about July 19, 2015, Mr. Guzley consumed a pork dish prepared and sold by a Seattle-based Asian restaurant. The pork used in the dish, which was contaminated with strains of Salmonella I 4,,12:i, was traced back to Kapowsin Meat.
The following morning, Mr. Guzley suffered painful abdominal cramps and other severe symptoms. That evening, Mr. Guzley admitted himself to the emergency room at Providence Hospital where he was treated for dehydration.
Over the next several days, Mr. Guzley’s condition did not improve, and required further treatment at the Everett Clinic on July 22. On July 23, he developed bloody diarrhea and required ambulance transport to Providence Hospital’s emergency room.
On July 23, Mr. Guzley’s submitted a stool sample that ultimately tested positive for Salmonella I 4,5,12:i:-, which is the same multi-drug resistant strain involved in the outbreak linked by Washington state and federal health officials to Kapowsin pork products.
Mr. Guzley remained acutely ill for two weeks, incurring substantial economic losses due to missed work and medical expenses. Additionally, he has been under the care of a gastroenterologist who has diagnosed him with post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome.
Kapowsin Meat has recalled approximately 116,262 pounds of whole hogs that may be contaminated with Salmonella that were produced between April 18, 2015 and July 27, 2015. So far, 134 victims of Salmonella poisoning have been reported between the ages of 1 and 90. Among the 111 victims with available information, 14% have been hospitalized for their illnesses. Luckily no deaths have yet been reported.
“Federal regulations are intended to keep the public safe,” said Marler, food safety activist and foodborne illness expert. “Without the listing of Salmonella as an adulterant, especially the antibiotic resistant strains, the safety of consumers is compromised. Its exclusion is exceedingly irresponsible, and entirely unacceptable.”
While this is only the second lawsuit filed by Marler Clark in regards to Kapowsin Meat’s Salmonella outbreak, the number of victims is expected to increase with the very real possibility of outbreaks centered around Asian restaurants and other related eateries.
USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has posted a distribution list of 60 retail and distribution outlets in Washington State, Alaska, and Oregon, which received whole hogs from Kapowsin Meat. Unfortunately, the list does not account for the distribution records relating to various other pork products that may also harbor the bacteria.
The vast majority of whole hog distribution locations are within Washington State, and many of those are located in and around Seattle. Two locations are listed in Seattle’s Uwajimaya International District, and have likely infiltrated dozens of Asian restaurants in the area. Because many of the distribution outlets are meat distributors themselves, the Salmonella outbreak is even more widespread than initially anticipated.
To date, there are upwards of 80 Salmonella cases in King County alone. Marler suspects that more illnesses clustered around Asian restaurants or Uwajimaya will arise. He is also concerned about what other pork products—other than whole hogs—produced by Kapowsin might be contaminated. “Without entire documentation of Kapowsin’s pork distribution, it may prove difficult to halt the outbreak before more people fall ill,” said Marler. “Despite issuing a recall of whole hogs, Kapowsin may also be responsible for the contamination of other pork products that we are not yet aware of and that’s a scary proposition.”
Salmonella is the second most common foodborne illness in the United States. Approximately 1.4 million cases of Salmonella occur each year with 95% of those caused by tainted food. The acute symptoms of Salmonella include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea and mucous over a period of days. While there is no cure, infected persons usually recover completely, although it may take months. A small number of people experience ongoing symptoms such as joint pain, which can lead to chronic arthritis.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Marler Clark attorneys have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.
Marler has recently been featured on PBS’s Frontline (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/trouble-with-chicken/) revealing the problems associated with omitting Salmonella as an adulterant. Marler was also featured this year in The New Yorker to discuss issues relating to Salmonella in the meat packing industry (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/02/bug-system).