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22 victims in salmonella cases get lawyer

Matt McKinney

Spruce Pine Mitchell News-Journal

William D. Marler, attorney with Marler Clark Attorneys at Law, Seattle, Wash. said his firm represents 22 victims of the salmonella outbreak in Mitchell County.

Marler said almost all of the firms new clients were Mitchell County residents, but he knew at least one was from Buncombe County.

Marler Clark is a firm that specializes in salmonella cases. It travels all over the United States to represent clients who have become ill due to the bacteria.

"We have handled well over 1,000 salmonella cases throughout the United States," said Marler.

Marler says that his primary concern is to get compensation for his clients for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. The firm will receive 25 percent of any settlement for a child and one-third of any settlement for an adult.

The cases, according to Marler, will be tried separately instead of as part of a class action suit.

A class action suit is normally filed when the damages are identical for every victim and the requested settlement is the same for every one.

"These cases are unique," said Marler.

The entire process of litigation could be as fast as five to six months, depending on the wishes of the insurance companies, said Marler.

In similar cases, Marler said that the low settlement might be around $6,000 and the larger ones around $100,000.

This incident was unique, according to Marler, in that almost all of the cases were concentrated in one small area. Usually the victims are wide spread, possibly even in different states.

Marler and his firm met with the families last week to talk about their plans and begin the process of litigation. Out of that meeting, or other contact, Marler said his firm was retained by the 22 people.

One concern that Marler has is that the victims do not wait a sufficient amount of time before settling the case.

"My job is to see that the folks wait so we can see what the long term loss is," said Marler.

Possible long term problems are the development of reactive arthritis, commonly known as writer's syndrome and continued bowel problems, according to Marler, but only in extreme cases.

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