Jimmy John’s franchisee could have to pay punitive damages in E. coli case

Jimmy John’s franchisee could have to pay punitive damages in E. coli case

A man who was sickened by contaminated sprouts on a Jimmy John’s sandwich has been given permission by a Utah judge to seek punitive damages in a case related to his 2020 illness.

Travis Knorr and his wife Aimee Knorr filed the civil case in Utah’s Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2020, seeking compensatory damages for medical costs and other direct costs from Travis Knorr’s E. coli O103:H2 infection.

His illness was determined to be part of a nationwide outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said was traced to raw sprouts served by Jimmy John’s restaurants. The CDC reported 51 people as confirmed infected across 10 states. Three people were so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals, including Knorr.

Travis Knorr is a 46-year-old training director with the Utah Department of Corrections. He ate a Jimmy John’s sandwich with fresh sprouts on Feb. 21, 2020, and became ill on Feb. 26. He had severe diarrhea and had to leave work on Feb. 28. Ultimately he tested positive for E. coli.

Travis provided a stool specimen on March 3, 2020, and LabCorp reported preliminary results on March 5. His stool was confirmed positive for E. coli Shiga Toxin (STEC) by EIA testing. He eventually developed a C. difficile infection and required a fecal transplant. 

In a ruling this week Judge Douglas Hogan granted the Knorrs’ motion to also seek punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages. It is relatively rare for punitive damages to be part of a food poisoning case, according to one of the couple’s attorneys, Bill Marler.

Under Utah law punitive damages are designed to punish the plaintiff in a lawsuit for knowing disregard. They also serve as a deterrent

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