Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Victims of Oklahoma E. coli Outbreak File Suit Against Country Cottage Restaurant

Lawsuit Seeks to Cover Millions In Medical Expenses

Victims of an August, 2008 outbreak of E. coli O111 have joined together to file suit against the Country Cottage restaurant, where they were sickened. The lawsuit was filed today in the District Court in the State of Oklahoma, in and for the County of Mayes, on behalf of twelve families.

“Many of us regularly entrust restaurants with our health and safety,” said the families’ attorney, William Marler. “There are stringent rules and regulations that restaurants must follow, because any deviation from those rules can cause illnesses. Sadly, this outbreak shows how very wrong things can go, and how much suffering can result.”

The outbreak at the Country Cottage Restaurant in Locust Grove, Oklahoma sickened 341 people, hospitalized 70, and caused the death of one man. Investigators quickly pinpointed the restaurant as the source of infection, but were unable to determine the specific vehicle. E. coli is often contracted by consuming food or beverage that has been contaminated by animal (especially cattle) manure. E. coli outbreaks have been tied to meat, produce, unpasteurized milk, cheese, and cider, sprouts, juice, and even water. The lawsuit cites the restaurant’s use of water from an unpermitted, on-site well just before the outbreak—in violation of Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations – as a basis for punitive damages.

“These fourteen people collectively spent 250 days in the hospital, 84 of them on dialysis for kidney failure,” continued Marler. “Their medical bills are almost two million dollars, not to mention ongoing medical care that many will continue to need. Our job is to make sure that they don’t struggle to carry that immense burden by themselves.”