Family Sues Stop & Shop Over Child’s E. coli Poisoning

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A lawsuit was filed Thursday against Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop, a subsidiary of Ahold USA, on behalf of an eight-year-old boy who became ill with a severe E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating ground beef purchased at a Manchester, New Hampshire, Stop & Shop. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has successfully represented hundreds of E. coli victims, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the eight-year-old, who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and required kidney dialysis.

A lawsuit was filed Thursday against Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop, a subsidiary of Ahold USA, on behalf of an eight-year-old boy who became ill with a severe E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating ground beef purchased at a Manchester, New Hampshire, Stop & Shop. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has successfully represented hundreds of E. coli victims, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hercules “Eric” Tsirovakas and his parents, John and Christina Tsirovakas, of Epsom, New Hampshire. The complaint, which was filed in United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire (Case No. 1:06-cv-249), seeks compensation for the family’s significant medical-related expenses, economic losses, and for Eric’s pain and suffering.

Eric consumed a hamburger made from ground beef purchased at Stop & Shop at a family barbecue on September 4, 2005. He subsequently became ill with an E. coli infection, experiencing painful abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Eric was seen in the emergency room at Concord Hospital twice, and was admitted to the hospital on his second visit. Twenty-four hours after being admitted, he was transferred by ambulance to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Eric developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)*, a complication of E. coli O157:H7 infection, and spent 22 days in a pediatric intensive care unit at DHMC, undergoing several surgical procedures and eight rounds of kidney dialysis treatments after his kidneys shut down. Eric’s medical bills to date total over $100,000.

“We filed this lawsuit after months of trying to discuss with Stop & Shop how to make matters right for Eric and his family,” said Denis Stearns, the Marler Clark partner who filed the lawsuit. “Medical bills aside, the strain on the family was enormous. John, Christine, and their other children faced the possibility that Eric might not recover from his illness. John and Christine were forced to leave their two younger children with family members while they stayed with Eric at the hospital. And all of this was because of tainted meat.”

The City of Manchester Department of Health and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services conducted an investigation into the cause of Eric’s E. coli infection. The Stop & Shop’s meat department was cited for unsafe meat-handling practices, a “critical violation,” and E. coli O157:H7 was found in uncooked hamburger patties made from ground beef purchased at Stop & Shop. Health officials concluded that the source of Eric’s E. coli infection was contaminated ground beef purchased from Stop & Shop.

  • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is a frightening illness that even in the best American medical facilities has a mortality rate of about 5%. About 50% of patients require dialysis due to kidney failure, 25% experience seizures, and 5% suffer from diabetes mellitus. The majority of HUS patients requires transfusion of blood products and develops complications common to the critically ill. Among survivors of HUS, about five percent will eventually develop end stage kidney disease, with the resultant need for dialysis or transplantation, and another five to ten percent experience neurological or pancreatic problems which significantly impair quality of life. (see http://www.about-hus.com)

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark (see http://www.marlerclark.com) has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak cases for five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for a reported $12 million. The firm has litigated dozens of E. coli cases against supermarket chain stores, including Albertson’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Cub Foods, Price Chopper, and Supervalu. Marler Clark is working with David McGrath of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, PA, on the case.

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Denis Stearns
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