Two federal lawsuits have been filed against Dole Food Co. Inc., both claiming the company's bagged spinach sickened consumers with deadly e coli bacteria.

The lawsuits against the Westlake Village company come as the Food and Drug Administration investigates an e coli outbreak in nine states that has sickened 57 consumers and killed one.

One of the lawsuits was filed Friday in Milwaukee and claims two children were sickened by Dole bagged spinach bought in late August. The second was filed Thursday in Oregon and claimed Dole bagged spinach sickened a woman in Salem.

Monica Spiro, a spokeswoman for Dole, said the company would not comment on pending litigation, but she did say the outbreak was "being investigated right now."

William Marler, lead attorney in both case, criticized the FDA and produce industry for repeated e coli outbreaks.

"The FDA and the fresh produce industry have been working to resolve the issue of E. coli contamination for a number of years," said Marler, whose firm, Marler Clark LLP, specializes in E. coli prosecution. "It is unfortunate that outbreaks continue to happen and that consumers continue to be injured as a result."

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