Only a few people take a second thought when taking a bite of food an establishment prepares. We trust that the food we consume is safe and free from harm. However, the consequences can be dire when a food-related illness outbreak strikes, and E. coli bacteria rear their dangerous head. Such incidents not only threaten an individual’s health but also can result in concern over the food supply chain.
In cases where multiple individuals are impacted as a result of the negligence of someone else, mainly when a vulnerable population is impacted, the “strength in numbers” concept takes on a special significance. This principle lies at the heart of class action lawsuits, a legal mechanism that empowers individuals to come together and seek justice as a collective force and hold wrongdoers accountable for the resulting injuries.
This blog post will show how class action lawsuits work and how others can get involved in these collective legal battles, specifically focusing on the recent Calgary daycare E. Coli outbreak.
How do Class Action Lawsuits Work?
In Canada, class action lawsuits are initiated through a legal process that involves various steps. Class action lawsuits allow a group of individuals, otherwise known as the class members, to collectively bring an action against a defendant or group of defendants in cases where they have common legal issues or claims. Some of the key class action lawsuit steps are outlined below:
- Identifying a Representative Plaintiff: A class action lawsuit typically begins by identifying one or more individuals who believe they have a common legal issue with others. They seek legal representation and become the Representative Plaintiff(s) who subsequently act on behalf of all class members. The Representative Plaintiff(s) then must consult with a lawyer in order to determine the merits of the case and assess whether the claim satisfies the criteria for a class action. In the case of the recent Calgary E. Coli outbreak, a class action lawsuit has commenced.
- Certification of the Class Action: In order for a class action lawsuit to proceed, the claim must be certified by a court. The Representative Plaintiff(s) and their legal team will prepare a certification motion that includes details about the proposed class, the common issues, and the legal basis for the lawsuit. Before certification is approved, a court will consider several factors such as whether the claims are suitable for a class action, whether there are common issues among potential class members, and whether the Representative Plaintiff(s) can adequately represent the class member’s interests. If approved, the class action lawsuit may proceed.
- Notice to Class Members: Once a class action has been certified, notice is generally given to potential class members to inform them of the lawsuit, their rights, and information on how they can either choose to join or opt out of, the class action.
- Class Action Proceedings: The class action will proceed through various stages of proceedings and litigation. This allows them to gather evidence and prepare and present legal arguments. During this time, settlement negotiations may occur at any point. If the parties do reach a settlement, it may require court approval. If a settlement is not reached, the matter will proceed to trial.
- Judgment: After a court makes a judgment on the matter, it will apply to, and be binding on, all class members unless they have opted out.
Class Action Lawsuit Against Fueling Brains in Calgary
Cuming & Gillespie LLP Barristers & Solicitors in Calgary has issued a class action lawsuit against Fueling Brains following the recent E. Coli outbreak at several daycares in the city.
The Statement of Claim was filed on September 8, 2023. In this class action lawsuit, the proposed Representative Plaintiff is an infant residing in Calgary, Alberta, who brings this action through her Litigation Representative and Mother.
She brings this action on her behalf and on behalf of all other persons, other than the Defendants, who contracted E. Coli due to attending the daycare facilities owned and operated by the Defendants and being served food prepared and handled by the Defendants. As a result of the unsanitary, unsafe, and negligent food storage, preparation, and handling practices of the Defendants, the Representative Plaintiff and class action members have contracted food poisoning due to E. Coli infection and became violently ill. These cases are related to the Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli outbreak at the Defendants’ daycares.
If you or a loved one has been affected by this E. Coli outbreak, please contact Cuming & Gillespie LLP immediately.
Update on Shiga Toxin-Producing E. Coli at Calgary Daycare
Since our recent blog post, health inspectors have announced that three critical health violations have been discovered in the central kitchen used by the daycares linked to the E. Coli outbreak in Calgary.
264 lab-confirmed cases with 22 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome
On September 12, 2023, a press conference was held at which Dr. Mark Joffe, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, confirmed that there had been 264 lab-confirmed cases linked to the outbreak. Of these, 25 individuals have been hospitalized, with 22 patients developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe kidney complication.
Alberta Health Services has confirmed that six of the infected children are receiving peritoneal dialysis at Alberta Children’s Hospital, with other patients receiving care at three outpatient clinics in various Calgary hospitals.
Kitchen inspection after outbreak uncovers five health violations
Records show that the central kitchen responsible for the outbreak had been inspected four times throughout 2023, with the most recent inspection occurring in April 2023. Two violations were noted and resolved, and there were no outstanding violations as of the end of April 2023.
However, a kitchen inspection following the outbreak uncovered five violations, specifically:
- three serious violations concerning pest control, sanitation, and food handling; and
- two non-critical violations relating to utensil storage and odour.
The health inspection report shows that inspectors found at least 20 dead cockroaches and two live ones near the dishwashing area. The sanitizing liquid was not appropriately mixed, meaning there was a zero percent sanitizer concentration. Further, inspectors noted that cold foods were being transported further than 90 minutes away without adequate temperature control.
The two non-critical violations concerned a sewer smell in the kitchen, a leak and resulting puddle of water near the dishwashing area, and a thermometer stored in an unsanitary place.
Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary for Additional Information on the E. Coli Class Action Lawsuit
The trusted litigation lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP help clients who have sustained injuries or losses as a result of an incident or product liability issue that results in contracting a food-borne illness. If you or a loved one have been impacted by the recent E. Coli outbreak in Calgary, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Further, it is important to contact the team at Cuming & Gillespie LLP if you wish to join the class action lawsuit. Because it is difficult to know what steps to take after a product liability incident, we work closely with our clients throughout the claims process and litigation, as needed. To speak with a member of our team and learn more about how we can assist you, contact us online or call our office at 403-571-0555.