Marler Clark, a food safety law firm, is working to file lawsuits in response to the recent romaine lettuce and E. coli outbreak.
The firm says it is filing the lawsuits against the place of purchase of the contamination of the romaine to force the disclosure of where in the chain of distribution the contamination occurred.
The CDC recently updated their numbers in an outbreak spanning 35 states. There are at least four distinct clusters, one in Alaska linked to Harrison Farm in Yuma, Arizona; one on the East Coast linked to Panera Bread and Freshway; and two on the West Coast linked to Papa Murphy's and Red Lobster.
As of May 30, 2018, there are 197 cases in 35 states: Alaska (8), Arkansas (1), Arizona (9), California(45), Colorado (3), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Idaho (11), Illinois (2), Iowa (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (4), Michigan (5), Minnesota (12), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), Montana (9), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (8), New York (10), North Carolina (1), North Dakota (3), Ohio (7), Oklahoma(1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (24), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (3), Texas (3), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (7), and Wisconsin (3).
Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13, 2018 to May 12, 2018. Ill people range in age from 1 to 88 years, with a median age of 29. Sixty-eight percent of ill people are female. Of 187 people with information available, 89 (48%) have been hospitalized, including 26 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Five deaths have been reported from Arkansas (1), California (1), Minnesota (2), and New York (1).
On May 31, the FDA published a blog post with an update on traceback related to the E. coli outbreak, but decided to redact the chain of distribution.
"One thing to make issue over is the FDA's lack of transparency. If they know the points of sale, why not say so," says William Marler, managing partner at Marler Clark.
To date, Marler Clark has filed eight lawsuits in relation to the outbreak. Two in Arizona against Red Lobster, two in California against Papa Murphy's, one in Georgia against Texas Road House, one in Idaho against Papa Murphys, two in New Jersey against Panera, and one in Pennsylvania against Freshway.
Marler Clark currently has 91 clients, 12 of whom have HUS.