Two women are now suing Red Lobster after both say they contracted E. coli from tainted lettuce at a Peoria location.
These are the first two people in Arizona to file a lawsuit connected to an E. coli outbreak stemming from romaine lettuce from Yuma.
In a 17-page lawsuit , one woman named Rosalie Styles claims she was hospitalized with cramps, nausea, blood in her stool, all of it coming after a meal at a Red Lobster in Peoria.
According to the lawsuit, Styles ordered a Caesar salad on or around March 23 at Red Lobster off 79th Avenue and Bell Road. Seven days later, doctors told her she tested positive for E. coli.
The lawsuit says Styles spent three days in the hospital.
She and her attorneys now believe the romaine lettuce she consumed came from Yuma. They also believe Red Lobster is liable for her getting sick.
The complaint states, that because of the restaurant's actions, Styles "was forced to endure great pain, suffering, and inconvenience and may endure the same in the future."
Styles remained hospitalized until April 2 and was allegedly still recovering as of May 2, the date of the complaint.
“E. coli is a really serious infection, it can lead to hospitalization, kidney failure, and sometimes death,” said Jessica Rigler with the state Department of Health Services.
In fact, state health officials say 52 percent of the 121 people diagnosed, ended up in the ER during this latest outbreak.
Eight people have been diagnosed with the infection in Arizona. One person in California died from their illness.
“This is, however, our largest E. coli outbreak since 2006 when we had an outbreak associated with spinach,” said Rigler. 205 people were infected that year.
“Right now the federal government is conducting a lot of traces back to find out if they can identify exactly where that lettuce was contaminated, was it at the farm, was it in a processing plant,” said Rigler.
So far, state health officials say until the all clear is given, don’t take any chances and steer clear of romaine lettuce.
“It’s possible we’ll be able to call a close to this outbreak soon, but we need to keep monitoring for the next ten or so days to make sure we don’t identify any additional cases,” said Rigler. “If you don’t know where your romaine lettuce came from, don’t eat it. Once this outbreak is cleared, we will work with the federal government to make the announcement.”
ABC15 reached out to Styles and her attorneys for comment on the suit but have not heard back.
A second woman filed a very similar lawsuit through the same attorney on Monday, saying she went to the same Red Lobster in Peoria and suffered similar symptoms.
According to court paperwork, Penny Bunches was hospitalized from March 26, to March 30 after suffering from diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
She says she ate at a Caesar salad at a Peoria Red Lobster on March 21 and the lawsuit says the romaine lettuce served in the salad was contaminated by E. coli, leading to her infection and symptoms. Bunches tested positive for E. coli at the hospital, according to the complaint filed.
ABC15 also reached out to Red Lobster who provided this statement:
“The health and safety of our guests is important to us, which is why we take food safety very seriously. Since this is an open legal matter, I can’t share any additional information at this time.”