Utah woman infected by E. coli sues Costco over chicken salad

Shoppers crowd the entrance to the Costco store in Altamonte Springs, Fla. as central Floridians stock up on supplies ahead of the anticipated strike of Hurricane Matthew, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

A Utah woman says she was on the way to realizing a dream of becoming a Broadway actress when she was infected in 2015 with E. coli bacteria in chicken salad purchased at Costco.

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Chloe Rodgerson says her kidneys stopped functioning as a side effect of her illness, leading to a transplant and rendering her diabetic. Her medical treatment already has cost more than $2 million, with future expenses expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars, the suit says.

Because of her condition, the 20-year-old Highland resident will be not be physically able to work full time, according to the suit.

“She is likely unable (practically, if not physically) from having children,” the suit alleges. “Her life and dreams of a couple years ago are gone. She can no longer hope for a career as a Broadway actor.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, says Costco Wholesale Corporation was negligent for manufacturing and selling the “adulterated food product” that caused Rodgerson’s injuries. It seeks unspecified monetary damages from Costco Wholesale Corp., which is based in Issaquah, Wash.

Costco officials did not have immediate comment on Monday.

Rodgerson has acted in school productions and graduated from Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts in American Fork in 2015, the suit says. She had parts in the films “Twelve Dogs of Christmas II” and “Love, Kennedy,” has been the lead singer in three bands and performed in “Parade” at Lincoln Center in New York City.

In October 2015, Rodgerson’s father bought rotisserie chicken salad for sandwiches, which infected the young woman with E. coli bacteria, the suit alleges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 19 people in seven states were reported infected with the same E. coli outbreak strain, and an investigation suggested that Costco’s rotisserie chicken salad was the likely source.

The CDC said Costco voluntarily removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from its stores in November 2015. In addition, Taylor Farms Pacific Inc., which made a celery and onion diced blend that Costco used in its chicken salad, voluntarily recalled that ingredient “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the CDC.

Rodgerson underwent several surgeries, including one to remove her large intestine, and began dialysis, her suit says. In February, the month after they married, Rodgerson received a kidney transplant from her husband, Josh Batstone.

Seattle-based attorney William Marler, who represents Rodgerson, said the suit was filed after negotiations with Costco broke down.

“She’s facing a lifetime of medical issues,” he said. “Instead of dancing and singing, which she wanted to do, it’s going to be doctor visits.”

Return to Story