A Wayne woman has filed a second lawsuit against Wendy’s after reportedly contracting E. coli from sandwich lettuce.
Hillary Kaufman filed a complaint Wednesday in Wood County Common Pleas Court.
Kaufman said she had a Junior Cheese Deluxe and a lemonade at Wendy’s, 1504 E. Wooster St., on Aug. 3.
On Aug. 7 she started experiencing stomach pain and diarrhea. She went to Wood County Hospital on Aug. 14.
She visited her primary care physician on Aug. 17 and provided a stool sample, which tested positive for E. coli, according to the lawsuit.
Kaufman is seeking attorney’s fees and expenses, plus compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.
Sara Boron, Bowling Green, filed a similar lawsuit on Aug. 19.
She reportedly ate at the South Main Street Wendy’s on Aug. 1 and was hospitalized for eight days.
The Ohio Department of Health said that there are 23 confirmed E. coli cases in the state. That includes nine in Wood County and four in Lucas County.
The affected individuals in Ohio range in age from 8 to 82 years old. There are 14 males and nine females, according to the ODH.
A specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many of the people affected reported eating burgers and sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before getting sick, according to the ODH.
Wendy’s has removed the lettuce from its sandwiches.
Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce for salads.
The Wood County Health Department is reporting 23 cases and seven hospitalizations since July 31. The age range is 13-68.
The lawsuit says that 37 people from Ohio (19), Michigan (15), Pennsylvania (two) and Indiana (one) have been infected with a strain of E. coli; nine have been hospitalized.
Among the 26 interviewed, 22 (86%) reported having eaten at a Wendy’s restaurant in the week before their illness started, specifically the sandwiches with romaine.
The women’s lawyer, William Marler, who is based in Seattle, said the case numbers will conflict in the beginning of the investigation. For example, the state will only confirm a case if the stool has been tested and sequenced, he said.
“It’s just the process,” Marler said.
“Essentially people get sick, they go to the doctor; some people get cultures and some don’t,” he said.
He said that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that for every one person counted, there are 10 who get sick and are not counted in the outbreak.
Marler said the Wood County numbers will become state numbers, then federal, at some point.
“It’s highly likely that all 23 of the Wood County cases will eventually get sequenced and the state number will go from nine to 23,” he said. “And the same thing’s happening in Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania.”
He said that this outbreak “is going to be big, close to 200” when all the cases are counted.
The lawsuits also name a “John Doe” corporation.
Marler said this is the company that provided the lettuce to Wendy’s. That has been narrowed to a California facility, he said.
The CDC is not advising that people avoid eating at Wendy’s restaurants or that people stop eating romaine lettuce.
Most people with an E. coli infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure. Most people get better within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
To report symptoms, visit https://woodcountyhealth.org/health-promotion-and-preparedness/infectious-disease/ and click on the “take this survey” link in blue.