REDWOOD CITY — A San Mateo teenager became seriously ill and eventually had to be hospitalized after eating E. coli-tainted raw cookie dough made by Nestle USA Inc., according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
Attorneys for Jillian Collins, 18, argue that Nestle's flawed production process resulted in a dangerous and deficient product being sold to consumers.
Collins is among 65 people in 29 states who have reported becoming infected with E. coli after eating Nestle cookie dough, according to the suit, which was filed in San Mateo County Superior Court by the Washington state-based firm of Marler Clark LLP. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
"We haven't reviewed the suit, so (we) can offer no comment on it, but we're obviously very concerned about those who have become ill and also grateful to know that they are recovering," said Nestle spokeswoman Laurie MacDonald.
Attorney William Marler said he is representing twelve other people sickened by Nestle cookie dough. Those people, who include residents of Texas, New Hampshire and Colorado, will file suits in coming days, he said.
The suit comes just days after Nestle issued a voluntary recall on Friday for a long list of its raw cookie-dough products. Nestle began the recall after being informed that the Food and Drug Administration as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were conducting an investigation into reports that an E. coli outbreak was linked to the cookie-dough products, according to a written statement from Nestle.
MacDonald said that E. coli bacteria hasn't been found in any company products and that the recall was initiated as a precaution. Personnel from the FDA are searching the company's Danville, Va., plant for signs of the bacteria, she added.
E. coli is found in the lower intestines of warm-blooded animals and is usually harmless. But certain varieties, including the O157:H7 type — which doctors found in Collins, according to the suit — can cause serious food poisoning.
The teen's illness started after she ate cookie dough between May 20 and 22, according to the suit. On May 25, she began to have severe abdominal pains. By the next day the pain had gotten bad enough that she was rushed to an emergency room, according to the suit.
"By this time, her bout of diarrhea had turned bloody and her abdominal pain had become severe," the suit claims.
Marler said Collins, who recently graduated from high school and plans to attend UCLA in the fall, had to be hospitalized for a week.
Reach Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.