Woman who tested positive for salmonella files lawsuit against Boise Co-op

The lawyer for an Ada County woman who said she contracted salmonella after eating a sandwich from the Boise Co-op filed a lawsuit against the store Monday.

Randy and Judy Fisher said they have shopped at the Co-op for 30 years. “I love the Co-op,” Judy said.

She likes it enough that it’s been a tradition for Randy to visit the North End store every Friday to buy a tuna sandwich for his wife. On June 5, Judy said, she had the chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after eating her usual sandwich.

“Everyone’s had a stomach bug, but this is different. ... It feels like someone just gave me a spoonful of poison,” Judy said.

She visited the doctor a couple of days later, and on Saturday she found out she had salmonella. Late last week, the health district announced that about 30 people had tested positive for salmonella after eating at the Co-op.

Any food purchased from the deli after June 1 should be discarded, according to the Co-op. The store will offer refunds at its customer service desk.

Co-op management did not immediately return calls from the Statesman seeking further comment.

A notice posted on the store’s website says, “We deeply regret any illnesses resulting from this outbreak.” The notice refers people with questions or who want to report food poisoning to the health district (208-327-7499).

Central District Health Department spokeswoman Christine Myron said that from 75 to 100 people have called to report symptoms of salmonella. Most of them said that they ate something from the Co-op, Myron said. Only a couple of cases have pointed to other food sources. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, she said.

“We’re telling people that if they’re showing symptoms, they have to see their health care provider” and be tested for salmonella, Myron said. Those who work in child care or places such as nursing homes and hospitals, where they have contact with vulnerable populations, should be tested even if their symptoms are mild.

Saturday, Myron said it could take up to two weeks to confirm if some samples from the Co-op’s deli were connected. Foods being tested include onions, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and turkey and other cold cuts.

The amount the Fishers are seeking in their lawsuit against the Co-op hasn’t been determined, said Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer and food-safety advocate who is representing the Fishers.

Judy said she worries that she will have long-term health issues as a result of the illness.

“It’s totally turned my life upside down. I wouldn’t mind having some money out of this whole thing to compensate for that,” Judy said.

This is the second salmonella case at a Boise restaurant to get widespread attention this year. The first, at Pho Tam restaurant on Orchard Street, resulted in that restaurant’s temporary closure in April after the health district suspended its food-establishment license. The owners said at the time that they planned to renovate the restaurant before reopening in the future.

The parents of a Boise 6-year-old filed suit against Pho Tam after they said their son became ill with salmonella after eating at the Vietnamese restaurant March 12. Marler is representing that family in the lawsuit against Pho Tam.

Despite filing a lawsuit against the Co-op, Judy said she will continue to shop at the store in the future for spices and vitamins.

“I’m a little fearful about going to the deli, but I don’t have a problem shopping there,” Judy said.