Local man sickened by E. coli suing lettuce distributor

Local man sickened by E. coli suing lettuce distributor

BETHEL PARK, Pa. — Amid a nationwide E. coli outbreak, a Bethel Park man is suing an Ohio lettuce distributor, claiming he was sickened after eating lettuce it sold to a McMurray restaurant.

The lawsuit, filed by Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., on behalf of Gary Shields, claims the illness stems from the nationwide E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce.

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According to the lawsuit, Shields ate romaine lettuce in a salad served by the restaurant March 19. A week later, he began experiencing symptoms.

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Shields was admitted to a hospital March 29 and remained hospitalized for five days, his attorneys said.

Pierce said the contaminated lettuce was distributed by the Ohio-based company, Freshway Foods, named as the sole defendant in the suit.

"We've done our preliminary investigation. The federal government is doing their own investigation," Pierce said.

A spokesperson for Freshway Foods said she can't comment on pending litigation, but could stress that, "Food safety is our top priority" and that the company is providing information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Pierce said his client hopes to recover medical expenses and lost wages, but that it's also a suit to prevent future illnesses.

As of Wednesday, there have been 98 cases of E. coli related to the outbreak confirmed by the CDC. Pennsylvania is the hardest-hit state, with 18 cases.