E. Coli Litigation

A resource for E. Coli Outbreak Legal Cases sponsored by Marler Clark

RestaurantsView Outbreaks

Restaurant food has been identified as the source of E. coli outbreaks

Numerous E. coli outbreaks have been traced to the consumption of foods purchased from restaurants. The sources of such outbreaks include cross-contamination, intact cuts of meat, ground beef products, contamination of food by ill food workers or service staff, and E. coli-contaminated produce. Occasionally, investigators from public health departments and environmental health agencies are unable to determine how restaurant food came to be contaminated with E. coli, and outbreak sources are unknown.

The first widely publicized E. coli outbreak associated with food served at a restaurant was the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. Over 600 people who had eaten at 73 Jack in the Box locations in Washington, Idaho, California, and Nevada became ill with E. coli infections after eating under-cooked hamburgers served at the restaurants. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from 11 lots of hamburger patties produced by Von Companies, and Jack in the Box initiated a recall of all potentially contaminated hamburgers in its restaurants. At least 171 individuals who had become ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating at Jack in the Box were hospitalized; 41 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and four people died. See Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits and Litigation.

Between December of 2011 and March of 2012, a multi-state E. coli O26 outbreak was traced to clover sprouts served on sandwiches at Jimmy John’s restaurants in 5 states. At least 29 people, including 6 who were hospitalized, became ill with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O16 infections during the outbreak. Nearly all victims were female.

An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to the consumption of food prepared at the Boulder, Colorado, Jimmy John’s restaurant in 2008. The Boulder County Public Health Department (BCPH) investigated the outbreak associated with this restaurant, and counted 12 individuals who cultured positive for an indistinguishable strain of E. coli. This number included two employees who became ill with E. coli infections, yet continued to work at the restaurant in a food-handling capacity while symptomatic. Using a cohort study, BCPH determined that the most likely initial source of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was sprouts. It is also notable that BCPH inspectors observed improper hand washing during an inspection of the restaurant, which could have contributed to the spread of E. coli from ill employees to restaurant patrons. See Jimmy John’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit & Litigation.

In 2008, an E. coli O111 outbreak was traced to the Country Cottage buffet restaurant in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. The outbreak is believed to be the largest E. coli O111 outbreak in US history, and sickened at least 341 people, hospitalized 70, and killed one. Public health officials were unable to determine how the E. coli entered the restaurant or was spread. In its final report, the Oklahoma State Department of Health stated that:

Apart from whatever mode the bacteria was introduced into the restaurant, the epidemiologic findings suggest that foodborne transmission of E. coli O111 through various food items—either contaminated with the bacteria by foodhandlers or by cross-contamination from food preparation equipment, counter surfaces, or storage areas – occurred at Country Cottage from August 15 – 24.
See Country Cottage E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit & Litigation.

Cross-contamination between meat and other foods in restaurants can be a source of E. coli outbreaks

In October of 2006, lettuce served at Taco Bell restaurants in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York was identified as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among Taco Bell customers. Public health officials from the states, along with investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identified 78 probable and confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 associated with consumption of lettuce at Taco Bell restaurants. At least 53 victims were hospitalized and 8 developed HUS. A trace-back of the lettuce used at the restaurants revealed that the E. coli-contaminated lettuce responsible for the outbreak was grown in California’s Central Valley. See Taco Bell E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits.

Shortly thereafter, in December of 2006 Minnesota and Iowa public health officials investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with the consumption of foods prepared at Taco John’s restaurants. At least 81 people became ill during the outbreak, including 33 Minnesotans, 47 Iowans, and one Wisconsinite. Twenty-six people were hospitalized, two with HUS. Iceberg lettuce supplied to Taco John’s by Roma Foods was determined to be the source of the E. coli outbreak at the Taco John’s restaurants. See Taco John’s E. coli Lawsuits.

In 2003, the Saint Clair, Illinois, County Health Department (SCCHD) investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among patrons of the Habaneros restaurant at the St. Clair Square Mall. SCCHD interviewed 64 people who had eaten at the St. Clair Square Habaneros restaurant during the exposure period, and learned that 30 had become ill with diarrheal illness following their meals at the restaurant. Five were culture-confirmed with E. coli O157:H7 infection. Three people were hospitalized, ten sought medical care through ER visits, and six contacted their primary healthcare providers regarding their illness. Pico de gallo prepared at the restaurant tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, but SCCHD investigators were unable to determine how the pico de gallo had become contaminated. See Habaneros E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits.

Cross-contamination between meat and other foods can result in E. coli contamination

In 2000, a large E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to two Milwaukee Sizzler restaurants. The Wisconsin State Department of Health (WSDOH) ultimately identified 551 probable cases, and another 122 possible cases of E. coli. Dozens of people were hospitalized; four developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and one person died. An indistinguishable strain of E. coli was isolated from case-patients, samples of raw chunky taco meat, and sirloin tri-tips at one sizzler restaurant. This meat was manufactured by Excel Corporation, then remanufactured at the local Sizzler restaurants according to procedures defined by Sizzler USA. WDOH concluded that watermelon that had been cross-contaminated with raw sirloin tri-tip was the source of the E. coli outbreak. See Sizzler E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits.

Also in 2000, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to cross-contamination between ground beef and multiple other food items at a Wendy’s restaurant in Salem, Oregon. Inspectors from the Marion County Health Department (MCHD) found several food-handling problems that likely resulted in E. coli’s cross-contamination to other foods. Wendy’s employees had soaked lettuce in the same sink that was used to rinse pans in which raw hamburger patties were held, without cleaning and sanitizing the sink between uses. Staff had also used a dry towel to wipe a shelf holding raw hamburger patties, then used the same towel for hand wiping in the grill area and the sandwich assembly area, where raw products were placed on cooked burgers. These opportunities for cross-contamination of E. coli were accompanied by an observance of poor hand washing practices. In total, MCHD identified 35 confirmed and presumptive E. coli cases associated with this outbreak caused by cross-contamination. See Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits.

  • China Buffet E. coli Outbreak

    Marler Clark’s E. coli attorneys represented a woman who became ill with an E. coli infection and nearly died during a 2001 E. coli outbreak in Minnesota.  The firm’s attorneys were able to link her illness to an E. coli outbreak among customers of the China Buffet restaurant in Alexandria, Minnesota. 

  • Country Cottage Restaurant E coli O111 Outbreak Cases

    Marler Clark represents over a dozen clients who became ill with E. coli O111:NM during the largest E. coli O111 outbreak in US history.  Public health officials identified 341 people who were infected with E. coli after eating at the Country Cottage buffet restaurant in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, in August of 2008.  Litigation is ongoing.

  • Federico’s Mexican Restaurant E. coli Lawsuits and Litigation

    The Marler Clark attorneys have filed lawsuits on behalf of E. coli outbreak victims whose illnesses were traced to lettuce used in food sold by Federico’s, a Mexican restaurant located in Litchfield Park, Arizona. 

  • Habaneros E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented five individuals who became ill with infection with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating at a Habaneros restaurant in the St. Clair Square Mall outside of St. Louis in E. coli claims. Four of the E. coli lawsuits were filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court, but all were resolved in August, 2004 without going to trial.

  • Ixtapa E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented 25 people who became ill with E. coli infections during an outbreak in Washington State in mid-October of 2008.  The firm filed an E. coli lawsuit against Ixtapa restaurant, which is located in Lake Stevens, Washington, on May 4, 2009 and later filed six more individual E. coli lawsuits against the restaurant, as well as a multi-party lawsuit on behalf of seventeen victims of the outbreak, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 25.  All of the E. coli claims have been resolved. 

  • Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits and Litigation

    Lawyers now at Marler Clark handled most of the litigation following the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, which resulted in individual and class-action settlements totaling more than $50 million – the largest payments ever involving food-borne illness.  The most severely injured victims of the outbreak were mostly younger children, including four who died.  William Marler represented a nine-year-old Seattle girl who recovered after suffering kidney failure and other complications, including being in a coma for 42 days, and won a $15.6 million settlement from the company.  He also represented over 100 other victims of the outbreak in E. coli claims against Jack in the Box.  Their claims were resolved for undisclosed amounts.

  • Jimmy John’s Clover Sprouts E. coli Outbreak and Lawsuits

    Marler Clark is representing victims of an E. coli O26 outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts used as toppings on sandwiches served at Jimmy John’s restaurants.  The law firm filed 5 E. coli lawsuits against Jimmy John’s on behalf of outbreak victims.  All cases have been resolved.

  • Jimmy John’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit & Litigation

    The Marler Clark law firm represents several victims of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that was traced to a Boulder, Colorado Jimmy John’s restaurant that served E. coli-contaminated sprouts.  The firm filed an E. coli lawsuit against Jimmy John’s on October 14, 2008.

  • KFC E. coli Lawsuit

    The E. coli lawyers at Marler Clark represented an Ohio woman who became ill with E. coli and HUS after eating contaminated coleslaw at a Cincinnati KFC restaurant.  The E. coli lawyers filed a lawsuit against KFC on behalf of the woman, and resolved her claim out of court in 2001. 

  • King Garden Buffet E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    In 2003, Marler Clark represented the families of five children who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 after eating E. coli-contaminated Jell-O at a buffet restaurant in Wooster, Ohio. 

  • Los Burritos Mexicanos E. coli Lawsuits and Litigation

    Marler Clark represents several victims of an E. coli outbreak that was traced to the Los Burritos Mexicans restaurant located in Lombard, Illinois, in June of 2013.  The law firm filed 2 lawsuits against Los Burritos Mexicanos shortly after the E. coli outbreak was announced. 

  • Olive Garden E. coli Lawsuit

    The E. coli lawyers at Marler Clark represented a number of victims of an Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, or E. coli ETEC, outbreak that occurred among customers of an Oregon Olive Garden restaurant in 2005. 

  • Sizzler E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented over a dozen individuals who became ill with E. coli infections - some with hemolytic uremic syndrome - after eating at two Milwaukee Sizzler restaurants in 1998.  The E. coli lawyers represented victims at trial and on appeal.

  • Taco Bell E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented six victims of the outbreak; all were successfully resolved after an E. coli lawsuit was filed on behalf of the sixth victim on May 20, 2008. The lawsuits were filed in New York and Pennsylvania, and some list Ready Pac, Taco Bell’s fresh produce supplier, as an additional defendant. Health officials determined that lettuce was the source of the E. coli outbreak.

  • Taco John’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits

    Marler Clark represented several individuals in E. coli lawsuits against Taco John’s, filing three suits against the restaurant - one on behalf of an Iowa child who became ill with E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome after eating soft tacos at the Taco John’s restaurant in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Health officials in Iowa and Minnesota counted at least 70 ill individuals as being part of the E. coli outbreak traced to Midwest-based Taco John’s.

  • Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits - Oregon, 2000

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented fifteen victims of the Wendy’s E. coli outbreak in claims against the restaurant chain, including two young boys who developed HUS and will suffer life-long complications related to their E. coli infections.  The claims were resolved in late 2001 and early 2002.

  • Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits - Utah, 2006

    Marler Clark filed an E. coli lawsuit against Wendy’s on August 11, 2006. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Utah family that became ill with E. coli O121:H19 infections after the mother was served E. coli-contaminated lettuce at a convention catered by an Ogden, Utah, Wendy’s restaurant.  Marler Clark also represented two other women who became ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome after eating contaminated lettuce served at the Wendy’s.  All matters have been resolved.