Chili's insurance company trying to settle Salmonella outbreak claims


Food Safety Attorney advises victims to be careful

VERNON HILLS, IL — Several people injured as part of the Chili’s salmonella outbreak report being directed to the restaurant’s insurance company, Liberty Mutual, for the possible settlement of their claims. Denis Stearns, the attorney from the law firm Marler Clark who represents over 35 victims of the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak, is advising victims to think carefully before deciding to accept a nominal settlement in exchange for the releasing Chili’s from liability for their damages.

“We have seen this happen before,” Stearns said. “A restaurant expresses concern for the health and welfare of their poisoned customers, and then steps aside to let the insurance company handle things, which to an insurance company usually means trying to settle as many claims as possible, quickly and cheaply. And while Liberty Mutual is no better or worse than most insurers, we have dealt with them before. For example, Liberty Mutual was quite aggressive in the Malt-O-Meal salmonella outbreak trying to settle cases, even with minors, before litigation forced them to finally stop doing so.”

Continued Stearns: “If a Chili’s outbreak victim wants to simply take what is offered, that is certainly their right. But before settling, people should stop and consider that there are several complications that can occur as a result of a salmonella infection, things such as irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis, and a condition called Reiter’s syndrome. It would be an unfortunate mistake for someone to accept a nominal settlement only to find two weeks later that the salmonella injured them more seriously than at first thought.”

A salmonella infection is typically self-limiting, which means that the intense symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, cramping, body pain, and fever usually go away on their own within a week or so. Another week is usually required before a person is back to normal. But in a recent study it was found that, of 217 cases in a salmonella outbreak, 29% later suffered reactive arthritis, 3% suffered Reiter’s syndrome, and 10% had reactive arthritis with mouth-ulcers.

Concluded Stearns: “In the law, you only get one chance at a full and fair settlement. If you accept an amount that turns out to be insufficient, you can’t go back for more.”

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BACKGROUND: The attorneys at Marler Clark have extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm has represented victims of Salmonella poisoning caused by contaminated sprouts, cantaloupe, cereal, orange juice, and several other food products. The firm represented victims against Sun Orchard after the company’s orange juice was tied to a Salmonella outbreak. Marler Clark also settled the claims of victims who ate Salmonella-tainted pastries at Black Forrest bakery in Clinton Township, Michigan, and represented 70 victims of Salmonella poisoning at a country club in Rochester, New York last summer. The firm has successfully represented over 1,000 victims of Salmonella poisoning in several states.

For more information see the Marler Clark Web site about Salmonella.

More about the Chili's Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.