Mexican Restaurant Food Poisoning Outbreak Results in Lawsuits

Two food poisoning lawsuits have been filed by victims of an E. coli outbreak at a Mexican food restaurant in Washington, where nearly two dozen customers were sickened in October 2008.

The outbreak was believed to have started at the Ixtapa Family Mexican restaurant, according to the Snohomish County Health District. At least 23 customers fell ill from E. coli food poisoning after eating at the restaurant, with victims’ ages ranging from 9 to 72-years old.

The outbreak resulted in four hospitalizations, including one customer who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure associated with E. coli poisoning.

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The lawsuits were filed by Sally Ring and Jean Jubie, both of whom allegedly suffered severe illness and required medical treatment as a result of food served in the restaurant. A prior lawsuit was filed in October 2008 in Snohomish County Superior Court by Ray and Allison Riojas, the parents of a nine-year-old girl who was hospitalized for dehydration after eating at the restaurant and falling ill from E.coli. All of the complaints were filed by Seattle food poisoning attorney Bill Marler.

E. coli is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover within a few week, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness from E. coli. If the toxin enters the blood stream, the bacteria could also lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The restaurant was temporarily closed following the outbreak. The owners said all open food was destroyed, the entire restaurant was sanitized, all cutting boards were replaced and the employees were retrained on food safety.

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