Dole and Natural Selections Spinach E. coli Outbreak
On September 14, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a nationwide E. coli O157:H7outbreak had been associated with the consumption of baby spinach. Multiple spinach recalls ensued, and on September 19, 2006, FDA announced that all spinach implicated in the outbreak had been traced back to Natural Selection Foods LLC of San Juan Bautista, California, a company located in the Salinas Valley.
As of October 12, 2006, FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed 205 E. coli illnesses associated with the outbreak, including thirty-one cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, 104 hospitalizations, and four deaths. Victims of the E. coli outbreak were identified in 26 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Wisconsin was the state hardest-hit in the outbreak, with 49 confirmed cases of E. coli. Canada reported one confirmed case.
A joint traceback by FDA and the State of California revealed that four spinach fields were the possible source of the E. coli contamination. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from cattle fields nearby the implicated spinach fields, as well as from a wild boar that was killed in one of the fields. The investigation into how the outbreak originated lasted for several years.
Marler Clark represented 93 victims of the E. coli outbreak, and filed lawsuits on behalf of individuals from Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Nebraska, New York, Utah, and Wisconsin. In the spring of 2007 Marler Clark resolved cases on behalf of three families whose elderly family members died after eating Dole spinach. Most cases settled in October, 2008. A final lawsuit was filed on September 3, 2009.
Visit the Marler Clark News Archives for more information about legal claims brought on behalf of victims of the spinach E. coli outbreak.