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Outbreak Victims to Sue OK Restaurant

A dozen Oklahoma families are about to sue the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove and its owners for the injuries they and their children received in the largest outbreak of E. coli O111 in U.S. history.

Fourteen injured Oklahomans from those families are going to Court because they were unable to reach adequate settlements with insurance carriers for the restaurant and its owners.

The lawsuit charges Country Cottage and its owners were negligent in that they “designed, manufactured, distributed, and sold food and drink products that were contaminated with E. coli O111: NM, a potentially deadly pathogen.”

The dozen families represented in the group suing the restaurant are seeking more than $3 million in damages plus ongoing medical expenses that currently total almost $2 million.

The lawsuit also charges the restaurant and its owners with violating Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DOQ) rules and regulations by using its private water well on Aug. 10, 2008 after a sudden interruption of the municipal water supply to the business.

The DEQ violations are sufficient to justify an award of additional punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

Last spring, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson ordered tests of private wells in the area around the Country Cottage.   Well tests returned some positive results for E. coli, but not the O111 strain.

The 2008 outbreak of E. coli O111 was “a point source” outbreak originating from the Country Cottage, a state investigation found.  It put 70 people into hospitals.  Seventeen outbreak victims, including eight children, required kidney dialysis.  The total sickened reached 341.

While the exact mode of transmission for the E. coli O111 was never found, the state health department found “there was ongoing foodborne transmission of E. coli O111: NM to County Cottage restaurant patrons between Aug. 15 and Aug. 24, 2008.”

Getting an E. coli O111 infection was not pretty.

One of the children, who will be among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, ate chicken and dumplings, chicken fired steak, mashed potatoes, cream gravy and corn on Aug. 19, 2008.

The meal resulted in an E. coli O111 infection that caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea that turned bloody, stomach cramps, fever, and fatigue.  A 12-day hospital stay with one day of dialysis followed, costing close to $100,000.

Another plaintiff, who dined twice at Country Cottage during the period, spent 50 days in the hospital and required dialysis for 38 days.   Hospital bills approach $500,000. 

A child who dined at Country Cottage on Aug. 20th and consumed many of the same menu items as the other child, ended up in the hospital with an E. coli infection for nine days and incurred nearly $40,000 in medical bills.

The Country Cottage is a popular home-style cooking restaurant located about 50 miles east of Tulsa.  It is owned by Kenneth Dale Moore, Sr. and Linda Joyce Moore; Kenneth Dale Moore, Jr. and Cynthia R. Moore, and Kelly and (John Doe) Moore.  All are being sued in their business, individual, and marital community capacities.

The plaintiff’s are from the following Oklahoma counties: Mayes, Delaware, Tulsa, Rogers, Cherokee, and Lonoke.

The Oklahomans filing the lawsuit are represented by Paul Blevins of the Blevins Law Firm in Pryor, OK; and William Marler of the Marler Clark law firm in Seattle.

© Food Safety News