Food safety attorney represents 24 who became ill at Federico's

Food safety attorney represents 24 who became ill at Federico's

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LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -

What made dozens sick at a west valley restaurant last month?

The county health department says it is still investigating the E-coli outbreak at a Federico's Mexican restaurant in Litchfield Park.

Many of those who got sick have hired a lawyer.

The lawyer, Bill Marler, is based in Seattle.  He's handled hundreds of E-coli cases, because he specializes in food safety law.  He says this is a pretty significant case.

County health investigators are still looking for the culprit in the E-coli outbreak that sickened some 74 people who ate at the restaurant in Litchfield Park.

The investigation when there's an outbreak at a Mexican food restaurant is particularly complicated says Marler.

"..a lot of the items are used in the same dishes.  There's salsa.. everybody has salsa.  There's lettuce.  Everybody has lettuce on their plate, so sometimes it makes it difficult to parse out the cause of the introduction of the E-coli is we know it happened at the restaurant."

Marler represents the 26 people who got sick after eating at the restaurant.

"This is a fairly significant outbreak.  74 people sick, 2 children have developed acute kidney failure," he said.

One of those patients, a 4-year-old, was released from a hospital this week.  A 17-year-old remains hospitalized, but is slowly getting better, says Marler.  Both will have to be monitored for the rest of their lives.

Though they haven't identified the source of the E-coli, County Health has cleared the restaurant to re-open.

"I think they're obviously at a heightened sense of awareness right now.  Probably the safest place to eat in town right now to be honest with you," said Marler.

This customer apparently agrees -- he ordered rolled tacos and a chili relleno to go on Wednesday.

"Right now, there's no cleaner place in town to eat.. they have an 'A' rating," said John Evans.

Right now, Marler is working with Federico's attorney.  Everyone is wanting to pinpoint the source of the E-coli. It may be an outside source that was brought in to the restaurant.

With so many people sick, to be interviewed, and so many ways the E-coli could have been introduced, this investigation is going to take a while.

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