DENVER -- A nationwide salmonella outbreak led to a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver on Tuesday.
The lawsuit claims contaminated product from a Colorado Springs business made a North Dakota woman violently ill.
The plaintiff, Ashley Lemke, said she ordered a kratom tea through the mail from Soap Korner -- a Colorado Springs business that specializes in the sale of herbs and natural extract products.
Lemke said she hoped the tea would make her fibromyalgia become more bearable.
“It was within the first 24 hours that I started feeling sick,” Lemke said.
After drinking the tea in January, Lemke said she started experiencing diarrhea, achiness, chills and a fever.
Doctors would later diagnosis her with salmonella poisoning.
“I ended up very, very sick,” Lemke said. “Probably the sickest I’ve been in my life all for something I was trying to take to make me better.”
Lemke said the North Dakota Department of Health tested the kratom tea.
Those tests, Lemke said, proved the kratom was contaminated and part of a salmonella outbreak announced in late February by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are more than 130 cases linked to the outbreak across the country, according to Lemke’s lawyers.
“There is a bit of an open question as to where the contaminated stuff came from,” said attorney Drew Falkenstein with Seattle-based Marler Clark law firm.
Falkenstein said his firm, which filed the lawsuit, has been in contact with more than a dozen potential victims who became sick after buying kratom products from retailers across the United States.
That means other retailers -- not just Soap Korner -- soon could be tied up in lawsuits.
“I do expect the outbreak to continue to grow,” Falkenstein said.
Lemke said she hopes her case and the potential cases of others will help boost industry standards.
“I would like to see stronger regulations,” Lemke said. “People who are consuming kratom need to be aware that this is an absolute real possibility.”
Soap Korner issued a statement saying:
"While we cannot comment about any lawsuit at this time, we can however say that as business owners we voluntarily issued a recall on certain products. That recall was sent to over 1,000 customers and was done from an over abundance of caution.
We will continue to work on this issue and hope for the best possible outcome for all parties involved.
We will update as time allows."