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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

First E. coli Lawsuit Against Ixtapa Family Mexican Restaurant

The first lawsuit stemming from the Snohomish county E. coli outbreak was filed today in the Superior Court for the State of Washington, County of Snohomish. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the minor child of Alison and Ray Riojas of Snohomish County, against Ixtapa Family Mexican Restaurant, which has been identified as the source of the outbreak.

The Riojas family ate at the Ixtapa Restaurant in Lake Stevens on or about October 11. One of their daughters began to feel ill on October 13, and on the 14th was sent home from school. She began to experience diarrhea, which soon turned bloody. On October 16, Mrs. Riojas took her daughter to the pediatrician, where she was advised to go to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room. At the ER, the child was treated for dehydration and released. Over that day, her symptoms continued to worsen. In severe pain, she was returned to the ER, where she was treated with pain medication and allowed to go home. That night, the child was taken to the ER for a third time, where she began to vomit blood. She was admitted, and a stool sample revealed that she was infected with E. coli O157:H7. The genetic pattern of her E. coli would later match others in the developing outbreak tied to the Ixtapa Restaurant.
The Riojas child has returned home where she continues to recover from her illness. She lost 9 pounds and is too weak to walk; if she has to move, her parents carry her.

News Coverage:

Lawsuit filed in E. coli outbreak tied to Lake Stevens restaurant

Lawsuit filed in Snohomish County E. coli outbreak

Lake Stevens eatery reopens as E. coli suit filed

Family files suit in Lake Stevens E. coli sickness

  • Wait – I don’t understand this; please help me out here; I’ve got a 3 year old girl and I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but why wouldn’t a stool sample be tested for EC0157:H7 for every child admitted to an ER experiencing diarrhea? Is it too expensive a test to run for too common a symptom?
    Gah – I /really/ need to research this; I’ve been curious for a long time – does anyone know if there’s even such a thing as a ‘home’ or consumer e.coli 0157:h7 test? I know that e.coli is present everywhere and in most cases is completely harmless so I’m sure that makes testing for such a specific strain difficult, but you’d think they’d be able to make something that tests for the specific toxin produced by these bugs.

  • Bix

    Three times to the ER.
    Poor thing.

  • I’m still trying to research this, but it’s difficult for a layperson. There was an instant e.coli 0157:h7 test developed at UC Berkley in 1996, all I’ve found are several variations of the same article:
    http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/E-coli-sensor.html
    I think I remember reading that Jack in the Box was now using something like this, but I don’t know if it’s based on the same technology.
    The article makes it seem like this could be developed very inexpensively.

  • Wow…I feel affection for your article. Thanks