Sick customer plans to sue Chicago restaurant after E. coli outbreak

- A south suburban woman who says she's the victim of a recent E. coli outbreak at a popular Chicago restaurant is telling her story.

“As a nurse, I knew that I could die because it was so bad,” said Pam Hollins.

Hollins is out of the hospital now, but still very weak after a bout with E. coli bacteria. Twelve days ago, the longtime neonatal nurse ordered a meal from the Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill. Five days later, she was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance after several days of vomiting and diarrhea had  left her dangerously dehydrated.

“The pain was like, I've had children and childbirth pain wasn't as bad as that,” Hollins said.

Hollins spent six days in the hospital. The health department says at least five other people have been hospitalized, among the 25 or so who became ill after eating at Carbon.

Hollins is now planning to sue.

“It's just hard, because people are so careless, you know, and because of somebody's carelessness, people got sick,” she said.

“You know the doctors there took tests of her stool. And they found what is called a Shiga toxin producing E. coli, and that is sure enough the exact same strain of E. coli that was found by the Chicago Department of Public Health at the restaurant,” said attorney Brian Salvi.

Hollins had ordered her dinner online. So, when the Chicago Department of Public Health began investigating the outbreak, her name and email address were in the restaurants records.

The health department sent her this email asking what she had eaten and whether she'd become ill. It was her first inkling that her illness was related to the restaurant.

Carbon is cooperating with investigators and has pulled out of the Taste of Chicago. The restaurant's two locations are still closed.

Hollins worries that her E. coli illness will keep her from returning to her work with newborns.

“I don’t know if this will be the end when it's all over if this will be a lifetime of me having issues with abdominal stuff,” she said.

Rollins says she first felt ill while on the job, a few days after eating the meal. Her co-workers noticed she wasn't showing her usual energy, and suggested she go home.

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