A young woman greets hungry goats Thursday at the fair's petting zoo a day before such areas were closed to public access.
A young woman greets hungry goats Thursday at the fair’s petting zoo a day before such areas were closed to public access. Photo by Ken Stone

The families of three children affected by an E. coli outbreak linked to the San Diego County Fair filed claims against the fair’s operators, attorneys representing the families said Monday.

The families of Jedediah Cabezuela, Christiano Lopez and Ryan Sadrabadi have taken the first steps toward a lawsuit against the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which manages and operates the fair.

Jedediah, who was 2 years old, died as a result of E. coli poisoning, while Christiano was hospitalized for 12 days with life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome. The extent of Ryan’s health issues were not specified in a statement from Gomez Trial Attorneys, which is representing the families along with Ron Simon, an attorney specializing in food safety cases.

Officials from the 22nd District Agricultural Association could not immediately be reached for comment.

The children were allegedly sickened in June after visiting the animal exhibits, petting the animals, and not washing their hands afterwards. Eleven victims were affected in total, according to county health officials, with Jedediah Cabezuela representing the lone fatality. Most of the 11 cases involved children between the ages of 2 and 13.

The fair, which ran from May 31 to July 4, closed its animal exhibits soon after Jedediah’s death on June 24.

“The Cabazuelas, the Lopezes and the Sadrabadis took their families to the fair expecting to have a good time,” attorney Ben Coughlan said. “No family should have to be concerned about their children getting sick, or worse, at a fair geared towards attracting families and children.”

Simon said “our investigation has already turned up enough information for us to determine that these illnesses were entirely preventable. We are confident that the information that will come to light through both state and federal investigations of the incident will confirm what we have found in our own investigation.”

City News Service