E. Coli Cases Linked to Sizzlers Soar

ByABC News

M I L W A U K E E, Aug. 4, 2000 -- The parents of a 3-year-old girl who died from food

poisoning linked to a local Sizzler filed a wrongful death lawsuit

against the company Thursday as the number sickened by E. coli from

Sizzlers grew to 56.

That lawsuit and another filed Thursday bring the number ofsuits related to the outbreak to seven.

Brianna Kriefall died July 28 from complications of hemolyicuremic syndrome, also known as HUS, a disease caused by the E. coliinfection.

“(Her parents) want to have answers, like how it happened andsecondly they want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again to anyother family,” said the Kriefalls’ lawyer, Bill Cannon.

Soaring Numbers

Health officials also reported Thursday the number of thosesickened from E. coli linked to Milwaukee-area Sizzlers rose to 56,including 54 from the Sizzler on the city’s south side and two froma Sizzler in Wauwatosa.

Attorney Michael Hupy also filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf ofRobert Troupe, a Milwaukee man who ate at the Wauwatosa SizzlerJuly 16. That lawsuit names Sizzler International, Sizzler USAFranchise, and Eschenbach and Boysa Management, the localmanagement company, as defendants.

A child also tested positive for the bacteria after eating atthe Wauwatosa Sizzler that day. The child and Troupe ate there thesame day but were not together.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Brianna, her parents, her brotherand a health insurance company also names Sizzler USA Franchise andEschenbach and Boysa Management Company.

Eschenbach and Boysa Management voluntary closed the WauwatosaSizzler Wednesday evening. The company last week closed its southside Sizzler.

Health officials said tests show a genetic link between thebacteria at the Milwaukee Sizzler and the Wauwatosa Sizzler.

Bad Batch of Meat

Paul Biedrzycki, manager of disease control and prevention forthe Milwaukee Health Department, said the two restaurants could belinked through a batch of meat used at both. Investigators are alsochecking whether the two restaurants have the same distributor,Biedrzycki said.

Officials believe contaminated watermelon at the MilwaukeeSizzler’s salad bar may be connected to the outbreak.

Officials also originally thought a pair of meat samples fromthat restaurant tested positive for E. coli, but Thursday said onlyone sample contained the bacteria. They have not determined if thebacteria was somehow transferred to the watermelon.

The two restaurants are the only Sizzlers in Wisconsin.Eschenbach and Boysa issued a statement Thursday calling theWauwatosa closure “precautionary.”

Lawyers for Arlene K. Trantow of Milwaukee also filed a suitWednesday. Another was filed that day as a class action on behalfof two St. Francis children and Marcia Helzer, a Milwaukee mother,and her 2-year-old daughter.

Three other lawsuits were filed earlier in the week.

Also Thursday, doctors at Schneider Children’s Hospital in NewYork upgraded the condition of 4-year-old Gabrielle Cetta to stableand improved. Cetta, from Long Island, N.Y., became ill aftereating at the Milwaukee Sizzler while visiting relatives.

Kelly Henrickson, a pediatric infectious disease expert atChildren’s Hospital of Wisconsin, said Thursday that another childcame in Wednesday night, bringing the total number of children illwith E. coli at the hospital to six.

Three of them have HUS and three have gastroenteritis, a stomachailment often accompanied by diarrhea. Three of them have beenlinked to the Milwaukee Sizzler.

Henrickson said doctors planned to use Synsorb Pk, anexperimental drug that may prevent some children with E. coli fromdeveloping HUS.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events