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Couple Files Suit Against Wheelersburg Taco Bell

By Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times

August 20, 2010

A Wheelersburg couple has filed suit against a restaurant in Wheelersburg.

Tammy and Scott Hale of 613 Gleim Road, have filed a complaint in Scioto County Common Pleas Court against Yum Brands Inc., a foreign corporation doing business as Taco Bell. The suit identifies the location as 8220 Ohio River Rd., Wheelersburg.

Yum Brands Inc. is a North Carolina corporation with its principal place of business in Kentucky.

The suit claims that on or about Aug. 4, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an outbreak of Salmonella serotype Baildon and Hartford illnesses linked to Taco Bell restaurant locations in many states, including Ohio. The complaint says many of the illnesses involved in the outbreak occurred during late May and throughout the month of June, 2010.

The complaint, filed on behalf of the Hales, by Marler Clark and by Fred Wendel of the Columbus firm of Stewart & DeChant, claims that on June 1, 2010, Tammy Hale purchased and consumed food items at the Taco Bell restaurant located at 8220 Ohio River Rd., Wheelersburg, including, but not limited to, a grilled chicken burrito.

It continues — "On or about June 2, 2010, Ms. Hale began to suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms. Her condition worsened over several days until she required hospitalization on June 8, 2010. She remained hospitalized through June 12, 2010. While hospitalized she tested positive for Salmonella Hartford."

The complaint says that at the time of the filing, Hale has not completely recovered from her Salmonella infection.

The suit states — "The plaintiff Tammy Hale's Salmonella infection, and the plaintiff's related illness and injuries, occurred as a direct and proximate result of the defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the adulterated food product that was manufactured and sold by the defendant."

Marler Clark said — "Two parallel outbreaks of Salmonella have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control, both linked to the Taco Bell restaurant chain. Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Baildon — the two outbreak strains — are rare and strong, sickening at least 155 people in 21 states and sending more than 30 percent of the ill to the hospital. More than 60 percent of the victims reported eating at Taco Bell."

The firm is asking a sum to exceed $25,000 for injuries and damages in each of three counts filed against Yum Brands Inc.

The $25,000 listed in the complaint is a formality, and does not accurately reflect what the eventual amount prayed for will be.

The Portsmouth Daily Times asked Attorney Dave Babcock of Marler Clark if the complaint would be part of a class action filing.

"It's an individual situation," Babcock said. "Our firm already does represent a couple of different people. But these cases will be handled individually."

The Portsmouth City Health Department and the Scioto County Health departments were investigating 11 cases that occurred between Memorial Day and June 18, 2010.

In late June he CDC took over the investigation.

Last week, PCHD Commissioner Peggy Burton said those investigating the outbreak may not know for several weeks what the source was for the 11 cases of Salmonella that occurred in the area between Memorial Day and June 18, 2010.

A call to Taco Bell's corporate offices resulted in a single-sentence response.

"We take food safety very seriously and our food is perfectly safe to eat so our customers have absolutely no cause for concern."

Read more: Portsmouth Daily Times - Couple Files Suit Against Wheelersburg Taco Bell

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