Pablo Lopez of the Fresno Bee and I have spoken several times over the last week as the Bee has been covering this unfortunate incident. What is unfortunate, in addition to the illnesses suffered, is the fact that many E. coli outbreaks have occurred over the last months – see my earlier blog post.
"I thought the beef industry had cleaned up, but there is obviously still a ways to go before people like Mr. Jorgensen can feel confident in the safety of the meat products they are eating," Marler said.
A man who was hospitalized for 15 days with E. coli has sued a Fresno barbecue business whose cooked tri-tip has been linked to an outbreak last month that sickened more than two dozen people.
Fresno resident Donald Jorgensen, 80, contends in his Fresno County Superior Court suit that he became ill from E. coli after he ate tri-trip that was purchased from The Grill at the Meat Market on West Alluvial Avenue.
Jorgensen and his wife, Beverly Jorgensen, want The Meat Market Inc. to pay for more than $150,000 in medical expenses. They also are seeking damages for negligence and "breach of implied warranty," a legal term that means they had a right to expect the meat was safe to eat.
The Jorgensens attended a graduation party in Fresno on May 19. At the event, Donald Jorgensen ate tri-tip that was purchased at The Grill at the Meat Market, the suit said. Three days later, he began to suffer severe diarrhea.
On May 27, he went to an emergency room for severe diarrhea and dehydration, said Seattle lawyer William D. Marler, who along with San Diego lawyer Fred Gordon represents the Jorgensens. A test of his stool sample showed a presence of E. coli, Marler said.
Jorgensen was released from the hospital, but he was readmitted on May 30. He remained hospitalized until June 15.
Marler said the E. coli caused his client to suffer hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially dangerous condition characterized by anemia and acute renal failure.
He said his client is fortunate to be alive. The extent of damages is not yet known, because Jorgensen is still recovering and faces risks of future complications.
Tests confirmed that two samples of leftover tri-tip purchased at The Grill at The Meat Market were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a dangerous strain of bacteria, Fresno County health officials have said. But investigators have not yet determined how the cooked meat became contaminated.
The meat that was tested had been served at private events on May 19. Initial tests run by the county showed 27 people were infected with E. coli bacteria. Of those, 25 had eaten the cooked tri-tip at private events.