Salmonella led to amputations, Kansas City woman claims

Salmonella led to amputations, Kansas City woman claims

Charles Emerick

Attorney Brian Niceswanger says his client is an eggshell plaintiff.

His client, a 72-year-old diabetic woman, claims a fish dinner contaminated with salmonella eventually led to the amputation of both her legs just above the knees.

“It’s one of those situations where one thing throws everything out of whack,” said Nicewanger, who represents Betty Sims. “You end up with an unfortunate result in what looked like a fairly benign situation.”

Sims, 72, claims that Captain D’s restaurant and its owner, TWA Restaurant Group, is to blame.

Brian Studdard, owner of TWA Restaurant Group, did not return a message seeking comment.

Sims had a dinner of fish, fries, coleslaw and a drink in May 2002 at the Troost Avenue restaurant. She also had three or four serving cups of tartar sauce from the restaurant’s dispenser.

That same day Sims, who was medically stable before the meal, began to experience flu-like symptoms, said Niceswanger, a McDowell, Rice, Smith & Buchanan lawyer.

The following day she developed a fever, headache, severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Three days after the meal, Sims went to the emergency room at Truman Medical Center after suffering from uncontrollable bowels, weakness and fatigue.

She was diagnosed with medical complications from salmonella. Sims stayed at the hospital for eight days.

During that stay the food poisoning created complications with her diabetes, the lawsuit claimed.

Sims had to adjust her insulin and had several hypoglycemic episodes. Her blood pressure became unstable.

The doctors told her the meal at Captain D’s was the source of the food poisoning. Niceswanger was unsure how they pinpointed the exact cause.

Following her discharge from the hospital, Sims still had an elevated blood pressure, and her congestive heart failure worsened, she claimed.

In February 2003, Sims complained of pain in her left leg. Later that year she developed a sore on her left leg that grew larger despite medical care.

Eventually her leg was amputated just above the knee. Doctors found osteomyelitis, a bone infection.

“The medical community has published literature documenting the known association between osteomyelitis and salmonella,” according to the lawsuit.

Sims later had her right leg amputated above the right knee “in an effort to control the lingering affects of the food poisoning,” Niceswanger wrote in the lawsuit.

“It’s not unusual for a person with diabetes to lose both legs,” he said. “They tend to overuse and abuse the other after the first is amputated.”

Niceswanger said Sims spent a significant amount on medical bills but couldn’t provide details. She claimed negligence, and her husband, Alfred, joined the suit alleging loss of consortium.

If the case reaches a jury, connecting the food poisoning and the amputations won’t be difficult, Niceswanger said.

“The older our society gets, the more of a common-knowledge base there is among jurors,” he said. “It’s likely that someone on the jury or one of their family members will have diabetes. They will understand these conditions. It’s not much of a chore to have potential jurors understand because they’ve seen it in their own families.”

Copyright 2007 Dolan Media Newswires

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