As the Times reported in their article “Seattle lawyer says his client may join other cases against Ag-Venture Farm Shows,” Marler Clark filed a suit on behalf of Yvonne Miller, an Orlando mother of three, alleging Ag-Venture should have done a better job protecting fairgoers from exposure to pathogens.
As the number of people who have fallen ill after attending festivals in Orange and Hillsborough counties continues to rise, lawsuits are trickling in. The Times reports that in Orange County, where the majority of the stricken live, at least three lawsuits have been filed against Plant City-based Ag-Venture Farm Shows, the suspected source of the bacteria outbreak. Ag-Venture provided petting zoos at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, the Florida State Fair in Tampa and the Central Florida Fair in Orlando.
Statewide so far, there are 24 confirmed cases of E. coli infection – 20 of which have been linked to the same source – and 40 suspected cases, Florida Health Secretary John Agwunobi said Monday. Lab tests showed that the strain of E. coli that Miller contracted matched genetically with the 19 others. As I told the Times reporter, I may join lawyers who have also filed lawsuits on behalf of other victims to consolidate the cases.
From the article:
Meanwhile, Marler, the attorney, said petting zoos need to do more to prevent outbreaks, and that it is difficult for parents to keep toddlers’ hands out of their mouths.
“They’re sitting in ICU with their kids on dialysis and they’re hearing it’s their fault for not having their kids wash their hands,” he said.
“The reality is, trying to keep their hands washed constantly, not just wiping them down with a handy wipe, it’s a very difficult task. In these kinds of scenarios, where it’s basically an animal free-for-all, you can’t expect hand washing to be perfect.”
Marler said in 2002, at the Oregon State Fair, there wasn’t a petting zoo, but 85 people who walked through a small animal barn fell ill.
“I represented kids who never got out of their strollers,” he said.
Marler added that he wants to see stricter guidelines imposed on petting zoos, like keeping them cleaner, having hand-washing stations with hot water and posting more signs warning parents of the risks.
“We’re just not doing enough to protect the kids,” he said. “Frankly, the industry isn’t doing enough to protect itself.”