Food Companies Responsible for Cyclospora Outbreak Sued

Cyclospora lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm recently reported on the parasitic outbreak from contaminated salad mix that has sickened about 600 people in the U.S. Two of those victims are now suing three companies they believe to be responsible for the contamination.

The three defendants are Taylor Fresh Foods, Bob’s Taco Station, and Mex Luna Produce Company. The Olive Garden has also been separately sued in connection to the outbreak. The plaintiffs filed suit in Texas state court and allege that the three companies negligently imported, manufactured, sold and marketed the salad mix that was contaminated with Cyclospora.

Cyclospora is a one-celled parasite that can enter the body through food or water, most often through produce. The only treatment for the infection is a combination antibiotic therapy (Bactrim, Septra). Symptoms usually begin to manifest two to eleven days after consuming the contaminated food. Consumers with compromised immune systems, along with the very young and very old, are at an increased risk of serious, even fatal complications, and may continue to be infected for months if not treated properly.

The outbreak was first reported in late June 2013 in Midwestern states, and has since spread to 22 states and infected about 600 people. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported, however many have been hospitalized. In early August, the FDA officially confirmed that Taylor Farms de Mexico was suspending production and shipment of salad mix from its facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.

The most recent plaintiffs claim that health officials in Texas have linked a large number of infections to local restaurants and produce suppliers, including Bob’s Taco Station and its distributor Mex Luna. Their lawsuit states that both plaintiffs lead physically active and healthy lives, and that after consuming tamales and tacos at the restaurant in Rosenberg, Texsas, began experiencing symptoms of Cyclospora poisoning.

The plaintiffs reportedly suffered from these symptoms for about one week before calling a physician to treat them. The doctor, however, prescribed them medication only to treat food poisoning (as mentioned above, Cyclospora infection must be treated with a very specific combination of antibiotics), and their symptoms only worsened. The plaintiffs sought further medical attention, though this was also unsuccessful, as they remained unaware of the true cause of their ailments.

By the end of the month, the plaintiffs had missed a significant amount of work and visited numerous local medical clinics. Finally, a stool test came back positive for Cyclospora, and the two were properly treated. Among their complaints, plaintiffs allege that the defendants failed to give adequate warnings to consumers on how to avoid such contamination and instructions on how to treat it if it should occur. They claim the defendants’ failure to provide warning and instruction made the product unreasonably dangerous, and directly caused their injuries and damages.

The Olive Garden is facing a similar lawsuit filed by a mother and son who consumed the salad mix at the restaurant’s location in Lincoln, Nebraska. Both plaintiffs are currently still recovering from their infections at a local hospital and will require ongoing medical monitoring. There are reportedly nearly 80 other confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection in Nebraska.

The mother and son are suing the Olive Garden because they reasonably expected the restaurant to sell food free of parasites and contaminants, and they are hoping to find out how and why the salad mix was contaminated. Similar litigation against Olive Garden is currently pending in Ohio.

Cyclospora lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on this outbreak and its litigation as it unfolds. We have extensive experience advocating on behalf of those sickened by food-borne illnesses, and encourage anyone suffering from ongoing symptoms consistent with Cyclospora poisoning to seek medical attention and consult a Cyclospora attorney to discuss your legal rights.

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