An Iowa woman has filed suit against the Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich chain after suffering from a severe E. coli O26 infection, and alleging that her illness was caused by a sandwich made with contaminated raw sprouts.

In a complaint filed in the Iowa District Court for Polk County, the 27-year-old Des Moines resident says she ate a Turkey Tom sandwich with sprouts at a Jimmy John’s store in West Des Moines on Jan. 3, 2012.

On Jan. 5, she awoke with severe abdominal cramps and later in the day, at work, began suffering from bouts of diarrhea. Over the weekend her symptoms worsened dramatically and she began defecating blood.

She saw a doctor, but continued to get sicker and was referred to a specialist on Jan. 11, who ordered a colonoscopy and treated her for severe dehydration. She was rushed to the emergency department of Jan. 12. She says her acute, painful and debilitating illness lasted for three weeks.

A stool specimen confirmed that she had been infected with E. coli O26, and later that the bacteria was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain linked to sprouts served on Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The woman was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be one of at least 12 people sickened in five states in an outbreak linked to Jimmy John’s sandwiches.

Raw sprouts served at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich restaurants have been associated with multiple foodborne illness outbreaks, including  In recent days franchise owners and customers have said the chain is dropping raw sprouts from its menu.

The woman is being represented in her lawsuit by the Des Moines law firm Wandro, Baer & McCarthy and the Seattle law firm Marler Clark, which sponsors Food Safety News.