Ron Simon is not surprised to have received calls from residents of Montana after the deadly outbreak of an unknown pathogen linked to Chinese mushrooms. After all, he stated, “This is going to be multiple-jurisdictional litigation, with defendants in at least two states and possibly internationally. Our expertise in dealing with the trace-back investigation and litigating cases in multiple venues is well known.” Just a number of the cases (outbreaks) Ron Simon and Tony Coveny have handled in recent years include the imported sashimi-grade tuna from India, that contained salmonella; the outbreaks of the parasite Cyclospora from Mexican basil and lettuce; the contaminated Vietnamese white pepper; the Hepatitis A contaminated pomegranates for India; the Hepatitis A contaminated strawberries from Egypt; and the recent Daily Harvest outbreak linked to Peruvian Tara Flour.
“The strict standards we have in the U.S.A. are not universal,” says Tony Coveny. “In fact, I have been on plantations in Nicaragua and Mexico where the producers of fruit and vegetables did not even have outhouses for their employees. This is particularly troubling since most foodborne illness is a result of consuming even very small amounts of another person’s feces.” This fact is termed the “oral-fecal” route, and is why personal hygiene is so important and why nearly every restaurant bathroom in the U.S.A. has a sign reminding employees to thoroughly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
In the current Dave’s Sushi outbreak, Ron Simon has decided not to file a lawsuit yet, but to allow the non-litigious route an opportunity to resolve the claims. “We do not like to run straight to litigation if it can be avoided,” says Simon, adding, “but this depends on the defendant being reasonable.” In this case, the facts are still under investigation, so we will wait and see what transpires and what is found in the investigation.
Coveny suggests “every person who became ill should contact their county health department or the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to report their illnesses. They should also seek medical attention. Since we do not yet know what pathogen made people sick, we cannot be certain there will not be any long-term illness or side effects. We also suggest people seek legal representation so they can be part of the claims process moving forward.”
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