Glenview Announcements 09-21-2006 (E. coli Spinach)

Glenview Announcements 09-21-2006 (E. coli Spinach)

Glenview restaurateur sues over lost spinach

By Eric Herman
Staff writer

In what could be the first in a bumper crop of class-action lawsuits, a Glenview restaurant sued a California food company over spinach possibly tainted with E. coli.

G&G Restaurant Corp., owner of Hamilton’s Restaurant in Glenview, filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court on Monday. Unlike other actions filed in the latest outbreak, the lawsuit does not allege physical harm but seeks only compensation for money spent on spinach that had to be discarded.

“We want to ensure that this will not happen again. We’re a restaurant, and we’re well-known for our fresh products,” said George Gregousis, who owns Hamilton’s, at 1913 Waukegan Road.

The suit’s defendant is Natural Selection Foods, a San Juan Bautista, Calif.,-based company that sells prepackaged spinach under the Earthbound Farm brand. Federal authorities have identified Natural Selection as a possible source of the E. coli outbreak.

114 cases nationwide

On Sept. 14, the Food and Drug Administration advised consumers not to eat bagged fresh spinach. Natural Selection issued a recall for all the spinach it packages that has “Best if Used by Dates” of Aug. 17 through Oct. 1. In addition to its own brand, Natural Selection packs spinach for Dole, Trader Joe’s, President’s Choice and other brands.

The strain of E. coli linked to the tainted spinach can cause diarrhea, and in some cases kidney failure.

In the latest outbreak, 114 cases have been reported nationwide, with one death in Wisconsin.

Gregousis threw out $40 worth of spinach when he heard about the outbreak. His restaurant has stopped serving spinach salad and omelets, he said. While he acknowledges $40 is not much money, “It’s a lot of people that lost $40,” he said.

Class-action suits allow numerous plaintiffs with relatively small claims to band together to seek redress.

Personal injury suits

“All we’re seeking is the price that you paid for that spinach, which makes this well-suited for a class action,” said Gregousis’ lawyer, Tom Zimmerman.

Natural Selection executives could not be reached. Last week, Chief Operating Officer Charles Sweat said in a statement, “Quality and food safety have been the centerpiece of our business, and we pride ourselves on the high standards we have set.”

A Seattle law firm has filed three personal injury lawsuits on behalf of alleged victims of the outbreak.

Sun-Times News Group

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