Trial over E. coli allegedly contracted from PNE petting zoo faces lengthy delay

Three children who allegedly contracted E. coli from a petting zoo at Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition will have to wait at least another year-and-a-half to have their day in court.

1 plaintiff alleges kidney damage, brain injury from bacteria contracted at age 3, allegedly from fair

A trial over allegations the Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver Coastal Health and the District of North Vancouver did not take reasonable steps to limit an E. coli outbreak at a petting zoo is facing a years-long delay. (CBC)

Three children who allegedly contracted E. coli from a petting zoo at Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition will have to wait at least another year-and-a-half to have their day in court.

A civil trial over the alleged 2009 infections was to take place in November 2018 — but the full extent of one child's complications from her illness may not be known until 2020, when Eden Svangtun turns 15 years old, Justice Barbara Norell wrote last week.

"I am … not convinced that a year from now Svangtun's injuries will be able to be assessed," Norell wrote.

"It may be as late as another three years before a reasonably accurate assessment can be made. The delay is significant."

Three plaintiffs allege the PNE, Coastal Health and the district did not take reasonable steps to limit an E. coli outbreak at the PNE petting zoo. (CBC)

Svangtun was three years old in 2009, Norell wrote. In Svangtun's notice of civil claim, it is alleged she suffered impaired kidney function, brain injury and internal damage to "multiple" organs, and requires ongoing treatment.

The girl is joined by two other plaintiffs — brothers who were almost five at the time and suffered less serious injuries — in alleging the Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver Coastal Health and the District of North Vancouver did not take reasonable steps to limit an E. coli outbreak at the petting zoo.

The PNE, health authority and district, Norell wrote, have responded with allegations of negligence on the part of the children, their parents or guardians. Those include allegations of improper handwashing and failing to supervise the children.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Michael Gianacopoulos, the lawyer for the three plaintiffs, said while 2020 is the earliest time a trial could take place, discussions have not been held on an exact date.

The PNE, health authority and district have responded with allegations of negligence on the part of the children, their parents or guardians, including improper handwashing. (CBC)

Escherichia coli bacteria commonly inhabit the digestive tracts of warm-blooded organisms.

While many strains are harmless to humans, some virulent strains can be deadly or cause stomach problems, urinary tract infections, neonatal meningitis and other more serious health problems.