Gordon & Holmes teamed up with Seattle-based Marler Clark to handle a number of the leading Food Borne Illness cases affecting hundreds of consumers during 2013. Marler Clark has represented hundreds of people who contracted hepatitis A after eating contaminated food.  The law firm has also represented thousands who received hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin injections to prevent infection and has recovered over $600 million for victims of not only hepatitis A, but E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.

Gordon + Holmes’ representative plaintiff cases have involved national foodborne illness outbreaks where hundreds of people were sickened from eating contaminated food, including Chi-Chi’s v. Castellini (Ventura County Superior Court No. CIV236710), one of the largest hepatitis A outbreaks in a restaurant industry history;  Sheetz v. Coronet (Blair County Civil Div No. 2004GN5396), largest salmonella outbreak in US restaurant industry history; and Foodmaker v. Vons (27CA 4th 473), at the time the largest E. coli outbreak in US history.

The Food Borne Illness cases included:

ATHERSTONE FOODS

Jessie Withers v. Atherstone Foods, Inc.

Case No. CGC-13-535697

Melanie Ann Dunstan v. Atherstone Foods, Inc.

Case No. CV 178260

Nancy Gruchawka & Peter v. Atherstone Foods, Inc.

Case No. SCV-254623

From September 29, 2013 to October 26, 2013, a rare strain of E. coli O157:H7 infected a total of 32 individuals from four different states: Arizona (1), California (27), Washington (3), and Texas (1). The E.coli O157:H7 bacteria are pathogenic and can cause painful, bloody diarrhea in humans, as the bacteria attaches to the inside surface of the large intestine and initiates an inflammatory reaction. Two ill persons have developed HUS, and 28% were hospitalized, however no deaths have been reported.

Two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion were determined to be the source of the outbreak. Epidemiologic and trace back investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies determined this. The Glass Onion outbreak pattern is labeled as 1310CAEXH-1 PFGE PATTERN: EXHX01.0589 /EXHA26.3182. On November 10, 2013 Glass Onion voluntarily recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products that may be contaminated with E.coli O157:H7.

The Atherstone Foods Inc., dba Glass Onion Catering and Gourmet Foods, Inc., (Glass Onion) is a gourmet caterer and also a manufacturer and seller of prepackaged “grab and go” items sold at a variety of retail locations. The subject of this action comes from the prepackaged food products sold at Trader Joe’s.

Our clients were hospitalized and extremely ill due to this outbreak, they continue to recover physically and emotionally.

TOWNSEND FARMS

Favero v. Townsend Farms

Case No. 37-2013-00051417-CU-PL-CTL

Petersen v. Townsend Farms

Case No. SA CV-13-01292 DOC (JCGX)

Soza v. Townsend Farms

Case No. 37-2013-00052490-CU-PL-NC

On or about May 31, 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publicly announced a HAV (Hepatitis A) outbreak. They determined the cause of the outbreak was “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” which had been sold at numerous Costco retail stores throughout the country. Costco immediately removed the product from store shelves. The CDC and other state and regional public health agencies advised any purchasers of the product to refrain from consuming it, and to obtain HAV vaccination, or a prophylactic dose of IG.

HAV causes severe gastrointestinal illness, liver failure, and in severe cases death. It incubates in the human body for between 15 and 50 days. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people were potentially exposed to HAV either by consumption, exposure or close proximity to the product or a person who consumed the product. As of September 23, 2013, at least 162 people were infected by HAV and became ill due to consumption of the product. The illnesses have been reported to have occurred in residents of at least ten states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and California.

The following Defendants have been identified:

Townsend Farms, Inc. is an Oregon corporation that imports, manufactures, distributes, and sells a variety of fresh and frozen fruit products, including the product at issue known as “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend”, a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix. This product was distributed and sold at Costco retail store locations throughout the Western United States, including the State of California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined this product to be the cause of the outbreak of at least 162 HAV illnesses in ten different states.

Purely Pomegranate, Inc. is a California corporation that imports, manufactures, distributes, and sells premium pomegranate products, including pomegranate seeds, to consumers and other food manufacturing businesses across the country. These pomegranate seeds were imported, manufactured, distributed, and sold to Townsend Farms for inclusion in the “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” product that was the cause of the outbreak.

Fallon Trading Co., Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation that imports, manufactures, distributes, and sells premium pomegranate products, including pomegranate seeds, to consumers and other food manufacturing businesses across the country. These pomegranate seeds were imported, manufactured, distributed, and sold to Townsend Farms for inclusion in the “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” product that was the cause of the outbreak.

United Juice Corp. is a New Jersey corporation that imports, manufactures, distributes, and sells premium pomegranate products, including pomegranate seeds, to consumers and other food manufacturing businesses across the country. These pomegranate seeds were imported, manufactured, distributed, and sold to Townsend Farms for inclusion in the “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” product that was the cause of the outbreak.

Our clients were all hospitalized with extremely debilitating illness due to this outbreak, and are continuing to recuperate both physically and emotionally.

TANIMURA & ANTLE

Orville Bernacki v. Tanmura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc.

Case No. C 13-02140 EJD

In August 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) isolated E. coli O157:H7 in a sample of defendant Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce. Tanimura and Antle Fresh Foods Inc. is a California corporation that is a manufacturer and seller of various lettuce food products. It knowingly sold to manufacturers and distributors for use and sale nationwide and internationally, the contaminated lettuce product at issue in this action. Genetic testing by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) identified the strain of E.coli O157 found in the sample as “ECXA1.1775/ECBN1.0012.”On August 17, 2012 the CFIA issued a “Health Hazard Alert” warning the public to not consume Tanimura & Antle brand romaine lettuce, UPC 0 27918203149. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) posted a notice that on August 19, 2012 Tanimura & Antle was recalling “Single Head Romaine.” Unfortunately, two Canadians were identified as being a genetic match to the E.coli O157 strain found in Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce.

Our client, Mrs. Bernacki had consumed lettuce product, which had been grown and processed by Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods in California. After a week of feeling weak, nauseated, and having bloody stool, Mrs. Bernacki’s husband called EMS who took her to the hospital. On August 26, 2012 it was determined that Mrs. Bernacki was infected with the rare strain of E.coli O157:H7 associated with the Tanimura & Antle lettuce recall. She was hospitalized for weeks, and had severe colitis and gastrointestinal bleeding. On September 15, 2012 she was transferred to the Geriatric Assessment and Rehabilitation Program, where she remained hospitalized for weeks. Unfortunately, Mrs. Bernacki passed away on January 16, 2013. Her E.coli O157:H7 infection contributed to, and was a proximate cause of, her accelerated decline and eventual demise.