E.coli is the Leading Cause of Foodborne Illness, Can it Be Grounds for a Lawsuit?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are over 73,000 cases of E.coli infections every year in the U.S., which contribute to over 60 deaths. Infections are contracted many different ways, from contaminated food and water sources to person-to-person contact. E.coli attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn the public on the most recent food recall associated with this bacterium, initiated by Glass Onion Catering Company.

Glass Onion sells ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wraps to national foodsellers like Delish, Trader Joe’s and Super Fresh Goods. Unfortunately, many of its chicken and ham products have tested positive for significant E.coli contamination, spurring the recall of more than 90 tons of prepared food.

According to the USDA, over 25 people in three states have been infected, which began in late September 2013. The FDA was not notified of the contamination, however, until early November 2013. The affected products were shipped to retail grocery stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington State. A full list of the products may be found here.

When E.coli Becomes Dangerous

Most healthy people are sickened by an E.coli infection but recover about three to four days after exposure. Others, such as children, the elderly, and patients with compromised immune systems, may experience debilitating, sometimes fatal effects from the infection, most often due to a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

E.coli is so common because it lives in the intestines of healthy animals, because contaminated food looks and smells normal, and because the amount of organisms necessary to cause disease is quite small. Additionally, antibiotics do not generally treat E.coli infections, and may even lead to further kidney complications. If someone contracts HUS, they must be admitted to an intensive care unit immediately, and typically must undergo kidney dialysis and blood transfusions.

A small number of HUS patients will suffer permanent complications, such as paralysis, chronic kidney failure, bowel removal, or blindness. In an even smaller population, HUS can be fatal. After such an ordeal victims and their families are wrought with medical bills and suffer financially from their time away from work. In these most serious cases, lawsuits against the company responsible for the contamination are warranted.

Who to Sue, and When

Most often, the producer or grower of the contaminated food is held liable for injuries suffered by consumers. Lawsuits against negligent food companies can not only award plaintiffs compensation for their past, present and future suffering, but force companies to invest in heightened safety practices as well. One recent E.coli case against Cargill Meat Solutions concluded with a settlement with the plaintiff, a 22-year-old dancer who was left paralyzed, as well as a commitment by Cargill to invest $1 billion in food safety technologies, ongoing meat science research, and interventions to eliminate E.coli.

All states have statutes of limitations which determine how long a victim can wait between contracting the infection and filing a lawsuit. By filing a lawsuit as soon as possible, there is better assurance that you will receive the highest amount of compensation. After a foodborne illness outbreak, companies are often slammed with numerous lawsuits and may even go bankrupt in the process, which limits the amount of money available to victims who file later.

Other illnesses associated with E.coli infections include severe hemorrhagic colitis and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Lawsuits alleging death or serious illness from E.coli are won by proving fault through scientific evidence. Our team of E.coli attorneys has our own investigators who dive into these cases to obtain appropriate records, internal corporate memos and classified information. If you have any questions about a potential E.coli lawsuit, contact our firm today for a free consultation.


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