Source: Marler Clark
Marler Clark Heralds Washington Supreme Court Decision Upholding $4.6 Million Jury Award to School Kids Sickened in 1998 E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 5, 2003--The Washington Supreme Court today declined to review last year's Court of Appeals decision upholding a $4.6 million award to 11 children injured in a 1998 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that was linked to undercooked taco meat served as part of a school lunch at Finley Elementary School. The School District had sought the Supreme Court's review arguing that school districts should not be held legally responsible if ill-prepared food sickens or kills a student. The Supreme Court refused to consider the argument.
"Washington State has a long history of holding schools accountable when the children in their care are injured or killed," said Denis Stearns, attorney and one of the founding partners at Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm nationally recognized for its successful representation of outbreak victims. "We believe that the Supreme Court's decision today reaffirms the principle that, when it comes to preparing food for their students, a school's foodservice operation should be held to the same high standard as any other restaurant licensed to operate in this State."
In its investigation of the outbreak, the Washington State Department of Health found that the Finley School under-cooked the taco meat. The Department further found the "differences in the preparation, handling, and transport of meat may have allowed for uneven cooking, uneven cooling, and uneven re-heating at the elementary school. This outbreak and the resulting investigation highlight the importance of regular inspections of institutional kitchens and the need for training of food service workers."
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