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Today the Houston-based food safety law firm of Simon & Luke, with co-counsel Gomez & Iagmin, filed the first lawsuit stemming from a multi-state Hepatitis A outbreak linked to consumption of a frozen berry mix manufactured by Oregon-based Townsend Farms and sold at Costco stores.
The lawsuit was filed against Townsend Farms and Costco Corporation in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California on behalf of 51-year old Lakewood, California resident Lynda Brackenridge. Ms. Brackenridge consumed Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend berries she had purchased at a nearby Costco store. On May 22, she began to experience fatigue, chills, muscle and joint aches, and loss of appetite. Over the next few days, she began to experience additional symptoms, including vomiting and dry heaves, darkened urine, and yellowing of the eyes and skin. She was taken to her local doctor’s office where she submitted blood and urine samples and was given IV fluids for dehydration. On May 30, her doctors informed her that her liver enzymes were severely elevated, and she was immediately scheduled for an ultrasound later that day. On May 31, after her test results showed severe liver inflammation, she was admitted to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for continued IV therapy, anti-nausea medication, and monitoring. On June 1, her hepatologist informed her that she had contracted Hepatitis A, and that she would need to be isolated from other patients.
Ms. Brackenridge remains hospitalized in isolation at Long Beach Memorial Hospital in guarded condition.
Prior to her Hepatitis A illness, Ms. Brackenridge led an otherwise healthy, active lifestyle, which included hiking, kayaking, climbing, and other rigorous outdoor activities. She has already lost over 10 pounds due to her illness.
Ms. Brackenridge is one of at least 30 victims in the western United States who have contracted Hepatitis A linked to frozen Townsend Farm berries. The victims are located in California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. The outbreak has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to advise all potential consumers against consuming this product. Although Townsend Farms has refused to issue a formal recall, Costco has already begun notifying customers to search their refrigerators and discard the product.
The outbreak strain of Hepatitis A is rarely seen in the United States, and is more common in North Africa and the Middle East. This strain has been identified in recent outbreaks in Europe and British Columbia. In both outbreaks, the illnesses were linked to consumption of frozen berries.
Ron Simon, counsel for Ms. Brackenridge, issued the following statement today: “We will determine exactly how these berries became contaminated so that we can prevent this from happening again. Americans deserve to eat with the confidence that their food won’t harm them. This lawsuit is just one more step towards assuring that all foods in the United States be safe and free from contamination.”
For the last 5 years, the attorneys at Gomez & Iagmin have been involved in virtually every national food borne illness. As a firm we strive to stand up for our clients who have unknowingly contracted viruses due contaminated foods.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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