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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Godstone Farm Petting Zoo in England Admits Liability in E. coli Outbreak

I have been following Fair and Petting Zoo Outbreaks for several years – http://www.fair-safety.com/ – so it really came as no surprise that Godstone Farm Petting Zoo admitted liability.  Last time I was in London I had a chance to meet with counsel for the injured children, and it seemed quite clear that the petting zoo’s liability was clear.

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According to British Press Reports, the petting farm at the center of an E. coli outbreak that left several children seriously ill will not be disputing liability in the legal case against it, lawyers have said.  A total of 93 people became infected with the bug following visits to Godstone Farm, near Redhill, Surrey, in August 2009. Seventy-six of those taken ill were children under the age of 10.  Law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, which is representing 27 children affected by the outbreak, said it had received confirmation from Godstone Farm that it would not be disputing liability in the case.

Screen shot 2011-01-11 at 8.12.12 AM.pngTwo of those worst affected were twins Todd and Aaron Furnell, now aged three, who became infected with the bug while on a school trip to the farm. They suffered kidney failure and spent several weeks in hospital, leaving Todd with 80% kidney function and Aaron with just 64%, the law firm said.  Aaron needed a feeding tube for liquids until very recently and both children may need kidney transplants in future.  Their mother, Tracy Mock, said of the outcome: “I am very pleased that we have been successful in this case. As a family we have suffered significant pain and distress and may still not know for many years to come the long-term consequences for the twins’ health.

“In the light of the farm’s decision, we can take comfort in the fact that Todd, Aaron and the other children affected by this will have the financial support they need to deal with their current health problems and any that arise later in their lives.”

A report released in June last year found there were numerous failings in the way the farm handled the outbreak, the largest linked to an open farm in the UK, and in its appreciation of the risk associated with E.coli O157.  Godstone Farm eventually shut on September 12, about four weeks after the first case of the bug was reported.