New E. coli lawsuit: Woman claims she was sickened by burger at Farmington Wendy's

Posted at 10:54 PM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 23:12:35-04

REDFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Redford woman says she spent 12 days in the hospital after eating at a Wendy's cheeseburger.

Her case is now tied to a nationwide E. coli outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says has sickened 97 people in at least four states. Fifty-three cases have been reported in Michigan.

"The doctor told me if I had tried to fight this off at home, I could have died actually," Ebone Colbert said.

Colbert says every Wednesday, she takes her son to a Farmington Wendy's.

On July 27, they ordered their usual.

"He got his normal kids' meal and I got my single with cheese," Colbert said.

A few days later, Colbert's stomach was in shambles.

"Tuesday morning around 5 a.m., I started having bloody diarrhea and called my doctor and he told me to go to the emergency room," Colbert said.

In the emergency room, Colbert says she collapsed.

"When they said I was going to be there for a while, I kind of went into a depression because I'm like, I don't know what's wrong with me," Colbert said.

Doctors later found out she was positive for a specific strain of E. coli.

According to the CDC, this strain has sent 43 people to the hospital. At least eight people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication with a mortality rate of 5%.  

Colbert says she developed HUS. On top of the complication, she also suffers from Chrone's disease, which means she's immunocompromised.

"I did get a call from the state of Michigan health department. They told me it was E. coli and they didn't know where it came from," she said.

She's currently unable to work.

The CDC reports that a specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy's restaurants in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before getting sick.

In a statement Wendy's said:

"We are fully cooperating with public health authorities on their ongoing investigation of the regional E. coli outbreak reported in certain midwestern states. While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of that outbreak, we have taken the precaution of removing the sandwich lettuce at some restaurants in that region. The lettuce that we use in our salads is different, and is not affected by this action. As a company, we are committed to upholding our high standards of food safety and quality.

Colbert says the popular food chain has lost her business.

"It's sad because I really like going there. My son loves them. But I can't see myself going back there," Colbert said.

Colbert is one of two people in Michigan suing Wendy's and their lettuce supplier John Doe Corporation.

Marler Clark, a food and safety law firm, is representing her and 31 other plaintiffs in multiple states.

"This has cost me and my family time and money, so I want to recoup what I lost," Colbert said.

More information on E. coli and symptoms can be found on the CDC's website.