Of the 18 summer E. coli illnesses linked by investigators to Cargill beef sold at Publix, 15 were in Florida. But the first lawsuit from the outbreak centers on the one illness in Tennessee, a girl under the age of 10.
Sam and Susan Porter’s lawsuit against Cargill says their daughter, “A.P.,” got E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in July after a family trip to Florida. HUS is a form of kidney failure that can be the fatal kick to an E. coli illness and one Florida resident did die in September after getting sick in July.
The suit by the Tennessee family about the Colorado beef they bought in Florida was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by lawyers from Jardine, Logan & O’Brien and Marler Clark.
Cargill “has certain minimum contacts with the State of Minnesota such that maintenance of the suit in this district does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice,” the suit declares.
Food safety attorney Bill Marler said Publix wasn’t being sued because “they aren’t the manufacturer. And Cargill has a sordid history.”
After investigators traced enough of the illnesses back to Cargill beef for it to be named the prime source, an Aug. 30 recall of Cargill beef sold at Publix was followed by Cargill recalling 132,000 pounds of beef nationwide on Sept. 20.
Back on July 4, the lawsuit claims, A.P. ate beef bought at a Publix in Ocoee, a suburb of Orlando.
“A.P.’s symptom onset began on July 7, 2018,” the lawsuit says. “She experienced vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, fatigue, and headaches. Two days later, she developed bloody diarrhea which prompted her parents to seek out professional medical treatment.”
A.P. was diagnosed with HUS shortly thereafter.
A Cargill spokesman e-mailed a statement:
“Cargill and our employees are distressed that someone may have become sick from ground beef we produced. While we can’t discuss the specifics of the lawsuit, we understand the person continues to recover and her health is everyone’s top priority right now.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to protect consumers and public health, and to make sure there are no further illnesses. No product is on shelves because it was produced on June 21, 2018 and is well beyond its fresh shelf life period. We are encouraging consumers to throw out any ground beef from this recall that may still be in their freezers.”