Another lawsuit has been filed in the Fairbank Farms E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, this time on behalf of Alice Smith. The suit was filed by Marler Clark, the Seattle-based foodborne illness law firm.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Smith purchased beef produced by Fairbank Farms at Shaw’s grocery store in Portland, Maine in mid-September 2009, and consumed the product in late October. On November 6, 2009, she began to suffer from symptoms consistent with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, including diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Soon, Ms. Smith began to show signs of extreme discomfort and illness. Her fever spiked, and her bouts of diarrhea increased in frequency.
Finally, on November 9, Ms. Smith was hospitalized, where the admitting physician immediately ordered multiple stool and blood samples. Nurses also inserted an intravenous line into her arm to combat her extreme dehydration. Unfortunately, Ms. Smith’s condition only worsened.
Two days into her stay, Ms. Smith developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a condition that can lead to kidney failure and in extreme cases, death. As a result, she remained hospitalized for nearly a month, until December 1, 2009. During this time, Ms. Smith tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 found in the Fairbank Farms ground beef.
Although it has been months since the date of her discharge, Alice Smith continues to suffer from her injuries, some of which may be permanent.
“Anyone who has battled a severe E. coli infection will continue to have ongoing health problems,” says attorney Bill Marler. “Not only does this woman have to deal with lost work time and hospital bills, but she continues to struggle with health issues. And it all started out with a meal – a meal made with meat that should have never reached the marketplace.”
The beef consumed by Ms. Smith, produced by Fairbank Farms, was part of a recall that took place on October 31, 2009 involving 545,699 pounds of ground beef. The recall included any beef processed between September 14 and 16, 2009, consistent with retail distribution at the time Alice Smith was shopping at Shaw’s grocery.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the contaminated ground beef has infected at least 26 people and killed two in ten states, mostly in the northeast.