On June 1, CDC updated its numbers in the E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak which has spanned 35 states. There are at least four distinct clusters, one in Alaska linked to Harrison Farm in Yuma, Arizona, one on the East Coast linked to Panera Bread and Freshway, and two on the West Coast linked to Papa Murphy's and Red Lobster. Marler Clark is working to file lawsuits against the place of purchase of the contaminated romaine to force the disclosure of where in the chain of distribution the contamination occurred.
As of May 30, 2018, there are 197 cases in 35 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13 to May 12, 2018. Of 187 people with information available, 89 (48%) have been hospitalized, including 26 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Five deaths have been reported.
On May 31, FDA published a blog post with an update on traceback related to the E. coli outbreak but decided to redact the chain of distribution. "One thing to make issue over is the FDA's lack of transparency. If they know the points of sale, why not say so?" said William Marler, managing partner at Marler Clark.
"Our goal in filing lawsuits against the place of purchase of the contaminated romaine is to force the disclosure of where in the chain of distribution – grower, shipper or processor – the E. coli contamination occurred," Marler said. "Only when we find out where the contamination occurred can we do something to prevent the next outbreak."
To date, Marler Clark has filed eight lawsuits in relation to the outbreak. Two in Arizona against Red Lobster, two in California against Papa Murphy's, one in Georgia against Texas Road House, one in Idaho against Papa Murphys, two in New Jersey against Panera, and one in Pennsylvania against Freshway.