After Jeffrey and Margit Merkey's two-year-old son Alexej consumed spinach tainted with E. Coli bacteria, he became so ill that he needed emergency surgery.
On Oct. 2 the family filed suit against San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Natural Selection Foods, the company responsible for packaging the tainted spinach that led to a nationwide recall of the product. The couple also filed suit against Delta Air Lines for allegedly serving spinach to passengers during the recall.
According to the filing, Delta employees served an in-flight meal, which included partially cooked spinach to their son. The suit claims that approximately 30 hours after returning home to Utah, he began to show symptoms.
"Words alone cannot describe the physical suffering on Alexej, a 23-month-old child, as a result of contracting this deadly disease from consumption of defendants' defective and deadly food products," the couple's complaint stated.
In addition, the suit accuses Natural Selection of "vile and outrageous conduct" intended to inflict emotional distress on the plaintiffs. According to the complaint, the company's use of the term "natural selection" in press releases related to the E. Coli outbreak contained Darwinian undertones, suggesting their son's illness was part of the natural selection theory.
The couple is demanding a jury trial and seeks damages relating to emotional distress and medical bills.