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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

The Largest E. coli O111 Outbreak Remembered – Victims Still Mourning – Victims Still Suffering – The Restaurant and Government Still Has Done Nothing to Help

Kim Archer of the Tulsa World has done a great job of recalling the horrors of the United States’ largest E. coli O111 outbreak.

• 341 were sickened

• 70 people were hospitalized, including 22 children

• 17 people received kidney dialysis, including eight children

• 1 man died

Excerpts from the Article about just one of the victims:

His entire life, Kenneth Birkes has worked seven days a week from dawn to dark. Then he ate a meal in honor of his father’s 85th birthday at Country Cottage in Locust Grove. It was Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008. Five days later, Birkes fell ill. The 61-year-old Grove man hasn’t worked since.

"I was up in Kansas to get a drilling rig out in the country," he said. "It hit me so quick."  He had just put the rig on a trailer and driven to the town of Edna, all the while calling his wife to tell her he needed help.

"That’s really the last thing I remember," Birkes said. His wife initially took him to a hospital in Coffeyville, Kan., but he continued to get worse. He didn’t wake up until six weeks later at St. Francis Hospital.

Birkes said he went from making $12,000 a month to nothing.

"This pretty well wiped us out," he said. After three months in the hospital, he had to learn to walk again. Now, he has migraines four days a week and is only able to go three hours at a time before needing to rest.

"I’m still alive, and that’s all that matters," Birkes said.

Birkes is among a group of clients of Seattle attorney Bill Marler asking for a settlement from the restaurant’s insurance company.

"If they turn us down, we have no choice but to sue the restaurant and the owners for the policy and all personal assets," Marler said.

  • Ken

    We’ve been down this road before but tell me again.
    “If they turn us down, we have no choice but to sue the restaurant and the owners for the policy and all personal assets,” Marler said.
    What makes the Restaurant different from the Church?
    In one of the boldest, yet boneheaded, moves I have ever seen in 15 years of litigating E. coli O157:H7 cases, after we sued it, Nebraska Beef filed a third party complaint against the Salem Lutheran Church of Longville, Minnesota
    If I were representing the Restaurant, I’d be reading your statements about not blaming the Church to the jury at the beginning and end of every statement I made.

  • I am not sure that it makes much difference to you, but I do see the cases differently. I sued NE Beef because they sent E. coli contaminated beef that sickened and killed people. I did not sue the church. I did and do think that NE Beef suing the church made no legal sense.
    On the OK restaurant, over 300 people were sickened, a dozen with HUS and 1 death. No source outside the restaurant was found. My clients alone have over $1.5m in medical bills and wage loss. Many will loose their kidneys. We have made a demand for the limits of the policy Р$2m – to be divided between all the people that have claims. I am taking no fee.