This case involves a man who was killed by a bacterial infection after consuming a tainted soft drink. Some time prior to contracting the fatal infection, the man had presented to his primary care doctor with complaints of nausea, vomiting, and blood in his stool. A series of blood cultures confirmed the presence of E. coli bacteria, for which he was promptly and successfully treated. After his recovery from the initial infection, the man resumed his consumption of the soft drink. Once again, he fell ill with a bacterial infection and was hospitalized, where he expired after a few days. Testing while he was in the hospital once again revealed the presence of E. coli. It was alleged that the man was repeatedly exposed to the bacteria through contamination of the drinks at the manufacturing plant, allegedly from the water that the company used to produce the drinks.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience with commercial bottling facilities and water contamination.
Expert Witness Response E-084920
I am a licensed Professional Geologist in multiple states as well as a Certified Professional Geologist through the American Institute of Professional Geologists. I have worked on both the supply and water quality sides of 5 bottled water facilities in the Southern United States. I helped these facilities develop their supply, handling the hydrology aspects such as pump tests. I have also worked on both the plaintiff and defense sides of supply well contamination issues, particularly those problems relating to E. coli. There are lots of rural areas in multiple states where I have seen a number of issues with the bacteria. While statistics vary on the subject, there are approximately 60-80 deaths per year due to E. coli. These are usually in rural areas where a drinking water source is hydraulically downgradient of the source of e.coli (septic/sanitary). It should be fairly easy to determine whether the bottling facility was following proper testing protocols as determined at the state or FDA level.