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Mom & Son From Midlothian Claim Cyclospora Infection; File Lawsuit

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Cyclospora cayetanensis oocysts (stained) in stool sample, undated CDC photomicrograph, graphic element on black. (credit: AP Graphics)

Cyclospora cayetanensis oocysts (stained) in stool sample, undated CDC photomicrograph, graphic element on black. (credit: AP Graphics)

OMAHA, Neb. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A mother and son from Midlothian who say they were sickened at a restaurant in Lincoln, Nebraska have filed a lawsuit against the company that owns Olive Garden restaurants in a Nebraska court. More than 200 Texans have been diagnosed with the illness, 41 of them in Tarrant and 32 in Dallas County.

Houston-based law firm Simon & Luke issued a news release Saturday saying it had filed the lawsuit in Lancaster County District Court on behalf of Laurenda Sanguinetti and her son, Richard Sanguinetti. The pair are suing Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, which owns both Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants.

The Food and Drug Administration has blamed an outbreak of severe stomach illnesses in Iowa and Nebraska on salad served at the restaurants.

The Sanguinettis say they were among hundreds sickened by the rare parasite cyclospora when they ate salad at the Olive Garden at Gateway Mall.

Rich Sanguinetti attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, playing two seasons as an outfielder for the Husker baseball team and earning all-Big Ten honors both years. After eating at the restaurant, the lawsuit says, Rich Sanguinetti became ill with extreme diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, gas, nausea, fever, chills, dehydration and related headaches, body aches and cramping, loss of appetite, anxiety, dizziness and weight loss.

After seeking medical treatment, he was diagnosed with cyclosporiasis, the ailment associated with the cyclospora parasite.

His mother experienced the same symptoms as her son and currently is awaiting the outcome of her test results, but doctors have begun treating her for cyclosporiasis as well, the lawsuit said.

“Our clients expected Olive Garden and Taylor Farms to sell food free of human or animal feces,” said attorney Ron Simon of Simon & Luke. “Through these lawsuits, we will find out how and why this salad became tainted, so we can make sure that it never happens again.”

Simon represents dozens of cyclospora victims nationwide.

The Sanguinettis’ case is the first known lawsuit filed in Nebraska stemming from the recent outbreak of cyclospora. Federal officials said Aug. 2 they had traced the outbreak in Nebraska and Iowa to salad from Taylor Farms de Mexico, the Mexican branch of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms. That salad was served at Olive Gardens and Red Lobsters in the two states, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Nationwide, nearly 470 people in 16 states have been sickened by the cyclospora infection.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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