Attorneys for Sheetz salmonella victims want to start mediation

WHEELING, W.Va. Attorneys for more than 80 people who claim they were sickened by tomatoes served at Sheetz convenience stores in Virginia and other states last year want a bankruptcy judge to O-K a plan to mediate pending lawsuits.

Seattle food-illness attorney Bill Marler asked a federal judge in West Virginia to allow plaintiffs' attorneys to bargain with those representing Sheetz and Coronet Foods. Coronet is the now-bankrupt company from Wheeling that sold the salmonella-tained tomatoes to Sheetz.

Any settlements of less than 50-thousand dollars would be paid outright; larger settlements would need court approval.

More than 400 people were sickened in nine states -- including Virginia -- in the outbreak at the Pennsylvania-based chain of convenience stores.

The Centers for Disease Control traced the tainted tomatoes to a Florida packing house which it has not identified.

(Joe Fahy can be reached at or 412-263-1722. Jerome Sherman can be reached at or 412-263-1183.)