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Escherichia coli (E-coli) is a group of bacteria that normally inhabits the digestive tract of healthy people. Most strains are harmless, however others can cause a myriad of health issues, including dangerous foodborne illness.

Some strains, including one called E. Coli O157:H7, produce a toxin that can cause severe inflammation of the colon (colitis). There are over 100 similarly dangerous strains, though this particular strain is the most commonly contracted E. Coli pathogen in the United States.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this single pathogen causes an estimated 96,000 illnesses, and 3,200 hospitalizations, adding up to $405 million in annual healthcare expenses.

E-coli bacteria are primarily transmitted by consuming contaminated food, such as undercooked meat products, raw milk and raw vegetables and sprouts.

Some food products are considered “high-risk“, including undercooked ground beef, which is one of the most common sources of infection. Other foods highly susceptible to contamination:

  • Sprouts (as well as other raw vegetables like lettuce and spinach)
  • Raw milk (unpasteurized)
  • Lettuce
  • Juice (unpasteurized)
  • Soft cheeses and yoghurt (made from raw milk)
  • Dried cured salami

What is E-Coli?

E. coli is a bacterium that lives in the intestines, and is usually harmless. However, eating or drinking food or water contaminated with some types of E-coli can lead to severe gastrointestinal illness. One particular type called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) can be life-threatening.

Consumers should consult their doctor if they develop symptoms that resemble an E-coli infection. People of any age can become infected with E. coli, although young children, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe food poisoning complications.

E-Coli Risks

People of any age can be infected, however young children and older adults, and others with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

This advanced infection, which affects about 5 percent of at-risk people, destroys red blood cells, causing damage to kidneys. HUS can require intensive care, kidney dialysis, and even blood transfusions.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer who has  represented numerous Ohio plaintiffs in serious product liability and catastrophic injury cases. Filing food poisoning lawsuits requires an experienced food injury lawyer. 

What are the Symptoms of E-coli?

Infections typically present with symptoms roughly 3 days after ingesting the pathogen, but can be as long as 10 days. It usually resolves on its own in 1 to 8 days, unless there are complications, which make lawsuits more likely. Typical symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Infections can cause death in rare occasions. The CDC reports about 31 people die from E. coli-related illnesses each year.

E. coli O157 Origins

The CDC lists contaminated food as the most common source of E. coli O157:H7, accounting for 65 percent of infection cases. The most common food source is beef, which has been identified in 55 percent of outbreaks. The next closest sources are leafy greens (21 percent) and dairy (11 percent). Some recent outbreaks include:

• In November, 2015, nineteen people in 7 states were infected with contaminated Chicken Salad sold by Costco, and later recalled by Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. Five people were hospitalized and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
• In October, 2015, 55 people from 11 states contracted E. coli after eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill. 
• Nineteen people reported infections in 2014 after consuming contaminated raw clover sprouts. The producer, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, is no longer using the same seed lot from the contaminated batch.
• In May 2014, Wolverine Packing Company recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products. Twelve people were infected by beef contaminated with E. coli.


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

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A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.


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Questions about Food Poisoning Cases

Why Should I File a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

According to the most recent data collected by the CDC, the majority (64 percent) of serious food poisoning outbreaks are caused by food prepared at restaurants, catering events or banquet facilities.

A legal claim against a company is likely to get a fast settlement if you hire an experience personal injury attorney. Filing a lawsuit indicates to the company that you are prepared to prove with sufficient evidence that their negligence caused a serious illness.

A legal claim also communicates to the company that you have an attorney that is willing to fight the company for however long it takes to win rightful compensation.

Once an injury claim is filed, an attorney can take legal steps to obtain relevant corporate and health department documents to help bolster a food poisoning case. Without a lawsuit, it may be difficult to get important company information. At this point, an attorney can interview restaurant employees, management, and other people involved to get additional information.

If you fall seriously ill, you may not be the only one. You may be part of an outbreak that must be contained for the sake of public health safety. Local health departments should know if you are part of an outbreak. People sickened in an outbreak may be able to seek settlements from the company that owns the restaurant.

Whether you get food poisoning from a restaurant or from contaminated food directly from a distributor, contact an attorney to find out if you have a case to sue for rightful compensation.

How Can I identify My Food Contamination?

Food poisoning occurs when the contaminated food enters the production line — any point during the growing, harvesting, processing, storage, shipping or preparation of the food product. Often cross-contamination and national or international distribution multiply the impacts of a single food outbreak.

The most hazardous culprits include raw foods of animal origin, such as raw meat, poultry, shellfish, uncooked eggs, and unpasteurized milk. Raw fruits and vegetables can also be a concern. Even foods like corn or cereals can contain high levels of mycotoxins, produced by mold on grain.

To protect your legal rights after falling ill from food poisoning, it is important that a medical professional test a urine, blood and stool sample to determine the specific pathogen (bacteria, virus or parasite) that made you sick.

This can narrow down where and how you were affected. Bacterial cells must be sent to a laboratory for genetic testing, and the results will be crucial evidence for a plaintiff. If you have any questions about the important lab testing or legal procedure, contact The Lyon Firm for information.

If the DNA patterns match, this is important evidence that can lead to a successful legal claim. Once you have medical evidence on your side, a personal injury attorney can advise you how to proceed against the negligent party that caused the illness.

Leftover food is sometimes tested to find out if it is contaminated. In some disease outbreaks, lawyers and health officials have gathered leftover food suspected of being the source of an illness. It is important to talk to a lawyer before throwing out leftover food from a restaurant.

How Can I Treat Food Poisoning?

Specific treatment for food poisoning depends on the severity and the source of the illness, if known. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning can last much longer. Treatment may include:

  • Rehydration/replacement of fluids and electrolytes—minerals that maintain the balance of fluids in your body are lost in persistent diarrhea and need to be replaced. Some patients with severe diarrhea or vomiting may need hospitalization, where they can receive intravenous salts and fluids to treat dehydration.
  • Antibiotics—doctors prescribe antibiotics with certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning. As a general rule, the sooner the treatment begins, the better the results. However, antibiotics may actually worsen symptoms in certain kinds of viral or bacterial food poisoning so it is crucial to identify the affecting pathogen first.