Bill Marler

Food Safety Advocate & Food Poisoning Attorney

John Strike and Abby Fenstermaker - 2009 Valley Meats E. coli Outbreak

On April 11, 2009, John Strike, a veteran and grandfather, became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection three days after eating a cheeseburger at the VFW post in North Olmsted, Ohio. He was admitted to the hospital, where tests revealed a severe infection and lower intestinal bleeding, and eventually kidney failure. John was in the hospital for almost a month before he was well enough to be released to a rehabilitation facility.

While John’s battle with E. coli was coming to a close, albeit leaving severe health repercussions in its wake, his granddaughter Abby’s was just beginning. It was a battle the 7-year-old girl would eventually lose.

Abby Fenstermaker was admitted to the hospital on May 11, 2009 after ongoing diarrhea left her severely dehydrated and 2 pounds lighter than her usual weight. Her body hurt so badly that she sometimes cried out in pain. Urine analysis determined that Abby had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication of E. coli infection. Abby’s kidneys began to shut down. A chest x-ray revealed fluid building up around her lungs. She was eventually put on oxygen to facilitate breathing. The next day found Abby minimally responsive, and a brain scan revealed that she had likely suffered a massive stroke. She then slipped into a coma. Her condition declined further over the next two days until doctors finally proclaimed her brain-dead. On May 17, Abby’s parents requested that she be removed from life support, and, along with family and friends, said goodbye to their only daughter.

Marler Clark represented Abby’s parents and her grandfather in claims against Valley Meats, the company that produced the E. coli-contaminated hamburger that sickened John, whose infection then spread to his granddaughter.  Their claims were resolved in 2010.

Several state health departments reported illnesses associated with Valley Meats’ ground beef products in the middle of May, 2009. The products were distributed nationwide both as hamburger patties and un-formed ground beef.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a recall of 95,898 pounds of Valley Meats’ ground beef on May 21, 2009, four days after Abby Fenstermaker’s death.

To read more about the Valley Meats E. coli outbreak and the following litigation, visit the Marler Clark Website.

Previous Story

John Powers - The 2007 Whittier Farms Milk Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreak

Next Story

Jordan Shook - The 1998 White Water Water Park E. coli Outbreak