Between the Lines

Plaintiffs turn up the heat on Chi-Chi's

You'd think the victims of the recent hepatitis A outbreak at a Chi-Chi's restaurant in Pittsburgh could find a lawyer closer to home.

Instead, they went after Seattle-based Marler Clark, whose reputation as one of the nation's foremost law firms representing victims of foodborne illness has been growing since the landmark 1993 E. coli litigation against fast-food chain Jack in the Box.

Partners William D. Marler and Bruce T. Clark served on opposing sides in that high-profile case. As a plaintiffs' attorney, Mr. Marler won $15.6 million, creating a state record for an individual personal injury action. Mr. Clark was the lead attorney representing Foodmaker Inc., the parent company of Jack in the Box, in litigation that spanned four years and involved more than 100 lawsuits in four states.

But there's no conflict of interest, says partner Andrew Weisbecker, who is spearheading the Chi-Chi's case. The two lawyers didn't get together until 1998, at least a year after the Jack in the Box case was settled.

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