Michael Beverly - The 1996 Odwalla E. coli Outbreak
In October of 1996, the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health linked 13 cases of E. coli O157:H7 to unpasteurized apple juice sold by Odwalla. The FDA subsequently announced a recall of all Odwalla juices containing raw apple juice. While investigators were unable to locate the exact site of contamination at Odwalla’s Dinuba, California plant, they did find numerous health code violations there, including poor employee hygiene and a lack of proper sanitization procedures. They also found that the plant had been accepting decayed fruit from growers.
The E. coli outbreak eventually included 65 confirmed victims in the western United States and British Columbia. Over a dozen victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) from their infections. <a href="http://www.about-hus.com" title="HUS is a life-threatening complication of E. coli infection">HUS is a life-threatening complication of E. coli infection</a> that can lead to kidney and other organ failure, and sometimes central nervous system impairment.
Michael Beverly, two years old at the time, was one such HUS patient. He developed diarrhea and cramps after drinking Odwalla apple juice at a Starbuck’s coffeehouse. Upon admission to the hospital, his fever had reached 106 and he developed a rapid heart rate. He was released after two weeks in the hospital, where he underwent dialysis to treat kidney failure, one of the complications of his HUS. Michael was left at risk of diabetes and kidney failure.
In 1998, Odwalla was indicted and held criminally liable for the 1996 E. coli outbreak. The company pled guilty to 16 federal criminal charges and agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine.
As a result of the outbreak, Odwalla began pasteurizing its juices and the federal government began requiring warning labels on all unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juice containers.
Bill Marler represented Michael and several other children who developed HUS and incurred severe kidney damage as a result of the outbreak. The majority of claims were resolved in early 2000 for a reported $12 million. The firm has since represented additional children injured during the outbreak in claims against the company.
To learn more about the lawsuits and litigation that stemmed from the 1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak, visit the Marler Clark Website.