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Another E. coli Lawsuit Filed Against Sizzler

MILWAUKEE, WI -- Another E. coli lawsuit was filed today against Sizzler USA and E & B Management, this one on behalf of Nira Chlebowski, a 67-year-old Milwaukee woman. On July 18, 2000, Nira had lunch at the Layton Avenue Sizzler, and selected several items from the buffet, including two pieces of watermelon. Within days, Ms. Chlebowski became violently ill, and was hospitalized for five days both in ICU and in isolation. During her hospitalization she underwent dozens of uncomfortable procedures, including a blood transfusion and a colonoscopy. By the time of her release, Ms. Chlebowski had nearly $15,000 in medical expenses. It took month before she felt she recovered.

In addition to Sizzler, named as defendants in the Chlebowski complaint are the restaurant’s three insurance companies: Federal Insurance, Secura Insurance, and Reliance Insurance. “Reliance was added as a party because we recently learned that the company has been forced into rehabilitation by Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner,” said William Marler, an attorney for the Chlebowskis. “While Reliance has not yet been found insolvent, we must protect the outbreak victims’ rights to fair compensation. We intend to look at the corporate assets of Sizzler USA to compensate their customers. I only hope that Sizzler USA has informed its stockholders of this situation,” added Marler.

The complaint also adds a claim for punitive damages against Sizzler USA. “We’re asking for punitive damages because this isn’t the first time that Sizzler USA had E. coli problems related to cross-contamination from in-store meat preparation. The July 2000 outbreak was caused by the same sloppy procedures in place prior to the 1993 incident. Obviously, Sizzler hasn’t learned anything, and it could now be up to a jury must to teach it a lesson,” said Marler.

“Finally, I did reach an agreement with Sizzler to pay approximately $260,000 in medical expenses incurred by our clients as a result of treatment they received for their E. coli O157:H7 infections. An article published last summer stated that ‘Sizzler USA executive Thomas E. Metzger cut short a business trip to Florida and traveled to Wisconsin with other representatives of the grill-buffet chain to assist authorities, comfort the ill and help the restaurant’s owner, franchisee Lee Schenbach… Sizzler also pledged to pay for all the victims’ medical expenses.’ Although it’s taken them a year to live up to this promise, I am pleased that Sizzler finally did so,” said Marler.


Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm’s attorneys are currently lead counsel in actions related to E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and hepatitis outbreaks in several states. In February 2001, Marler Clark secured a $4.75 million jury verdict against the Finley School District in Eastern Washington for several children were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after eating contaminated beef served to them in a school lunch. These were the first E. coli claims in the county to go to the jury.

Earlier noteworthy successes include managing partner’s, William Marler’s, 1993 $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box for Brianne Kiner, after she was infected with E coli O157:H7 during the highly publicized outbreak. In addition, Marler Clark resolved the claims of five families for $12 million in 1998, after their children were infected with E. coli 0157:H7 by drinking Odwalla apple juice contaminated with the bacteria.

More about the Sizzler E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.

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