Civil lawsuits have been filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis (MO) County on behalf of Stephanie Ingberg and in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, on behalf of Brianna Ruocchio, a minor, in relation to an E. coli outbreak associated with Romaine lettuce.

Both plaintiffs became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating romaine lettuce at Panera Bread locations. Ingberg and Ruocchio are represented by Marler Clark LLP, the Food Safety Law Firm based in Seattle, Gregory Aleshire of Aleshire, Robb & Rapp, a Springfield, MO, law firm, and Paul Nunes of Heisman, Nunes & Hull, a New York law firm.

The patients named in the lawsuits were part of a 2018 romaine lettuce outbreak that infected 240 people with E. coli O157:H7. It involved 37 states and Canada. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13, 2018, to Aug. 22, 2018. Of the 201 people with information available, 104 were hospitalized, including 28 people, including Ingberg and Ruocchio. Five people died.

A week after eating the salad, and following an emergency airlift to a medical facility, and three weeks of hospitalization, Ingberg suffered life-threatening HUS that included acute renal failure, pneumonia, anemia, thrombocytopenia, sepsis with multisystem organ failure, tonic/clonic seizures, brain injury, and severe caloric malnutrition. She continues to have regular outpatient hemodialysis, pulmonary, neurology, nephrology, and physical therapy and is at high risk of future medical complications.

Four days after eating salad, Ruocchio began experiencing symptoms of an E. coli infection, which included diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Ruocchio was hospitalized and developed severe HUS as manifested by the need for dialysis which lasted several weeks; she remains at risk for future health complications.

Disclosure: Bill Marler, founding member of Marler Clark LLP, is publisher of Food Safety News.

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