EUGENE, Ore. -- Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its representation of E. coli victims, filed a lawsuit today against the Lane County Fair Board on behalf of 29 individuals and families of individuals who were infected with E. coli O157:H7 during an outbreak at the Lane County Fair last summer. According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs suffered severe abdominal cramping, nausea and bloody diarrhea. Several children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and required kidney dialysis and blood transfusions. The lawsuit alleges that the outbreak could have been prevented if the fair had taken proper precautions.
Approximately 82 people became sick after visiting the fair's sheep and goat exhibit during what became the largest E. coli outbreak in Oregon state history. According to the lawsuit, the Lane County Fair Board knew, or reasonably should have known, of the risk of E. coli infection to the plaintiffs, and failed to exercise reasonable care and to give adequate warnings to the plaintiffs to protect them from that danger.
"A number of fairs and petting zoos have been implicated in E. coli outbreaks in recent years. The Lane County Fair Board should have been aware of risks to patrons, and taken the necessary precautions to prevent this outbreak," said plaintiffs' attorney William Marler. "These kids were severely injured, and many may suffer from complications of their E. coli infections later in life. Someone needs to be held responsible for what they went through."
Marler recommended taking the following steps to prevent outbreaks at future fairs:
* Admit only animals that have passed E. coli O157:H7 screening
* Limit airborne E. coli by not moving soiled bedding during exhibit
hours, keeping stall areas damp with an approved disinfectant, and
preventing visitors from entering stall areas
* Increase signage that makes clear the need to wash hands when entering
and leaving exhibits and to not eat in the exhibit areas
* Increase education of the public on the risk of animal contact
* Increase ventilation of buildings to improve airflow per approved
* Sanitize walkways and railings
* Ban food from exhibit halls and areas surrounding exhibit halls
* Increase the number of handwashing stations and encourage the public
to use them
* Add warnings at fair entrances.
Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illness. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box. In 1998, the firm settled the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice. The firm has represented more than 1,000 E. coli victims in the last 10 years, and has litigated on behalf of children against KFC, Bauer Meats, IBP, Excel, McDonalds, Hardees, Wendy's, Subway, Sizzler, Carl's Jr. and Costco. Marler Clark recently secured a verdict of $4.75 million against a school district in Eastern Washington in an E. coli case.
Source: Marler Clark