The family of a Calgary woman who died months after allegedly eating lettuce tainted with E. coli is suing the American company that produced the greens.


Gail Bernacki, 84, died in January. (Bernacki family)

Gail Bernacki, 84, died in January.  According to court documents, Bernacki never recovered after eating romaine lettuce produced by California-based company Tanimura & Antle.

Bill Marler, the Seattle-based lawyer who has filed the lawsuit on the family's behalf.

"What we're seeking is reimbursement of the medical bills, which actually goes back to the Canadian government, and for the pain and suffering that Ms. Bernacki experienced between her illness and death," he said.

Marler says E. coli poses great risk for elderly people.

"They're vulnerable to eating healthy food that's contaminated with a pathogen that can kill them. And obviously it was a horrible experience for Ms. Bernacki, for her husband and the rest of their family," he said.

Marler says the lettuce Bernacki ate was recalled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in August. He says there was a genetic match on the strain of E. coli in the lettuce found in Bernacki's home with that of the recalled product.

"There's really no question that this was the cause of her illness and eventual death," he said. "We tried to resolve it while Mrs. Bernacki was still alive, but we were frankly unable to do so."

She ate the lettuce before the recall in Canada and the U.S., he said.

The lawsuit was filed in California last week and the company has not yet responded to it. None of the allegations have been proven in court.