All News / Outbreaks /

Court fight looms over Salmonella outbreak

Courtney Flynn, Tribune staff reporter

December 28, 2003

Nearly six months after a salmonella outbreak at a Vernon Hills restaurant sickened hundreds of people, some still have symptoms such as stomach cramps, their lawyers said.

Others have medical bills they can't afford, said lawyers, who are gearing up for possible trials after mediation talks with the Chili's restaurant chain failed to produce a settlement.

As health officials prepare to issue a final report next week on their investigation into Lake County's largest recent salmonella outbreak, the legal effects are expected to extend well into 2004.

Attorneys who represent 140 of the victims have scheduled new mediation talks with Chili's in February. At least three lawsuits have been filed.

"It was totally preventable," said Denis Stearns, an attorney with the Seattle-based law firm of Marler Clark, which represents about 70 clients.

More than 60 people have sought legal help from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, a law firm with offices in Waukegan and Chicago.

The Health Department has confirmed 168 cases of salmonella and identified 109 probable cases linked to Chili's Grill & Bar, 567 E. Town Line Rd., officials said.

A lack of hot water and an employee who didn't practice proper hand-washing are believed to have caused the outbreak, health officials said.

Before the restaurant voluntarily closed July 1, a water heater broke, leaving Chili's with no hot water one day and no water at all for nearly two hours during lunch the next day, health officials said.

Since the outbreak, Chili's retrained all of its Vernon Hills employees on safe food-handling procedures and other safety measures, said Louis Adams, a company spokesman.

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
Salmonella Food Poisoning

What is Salmonella and how does it cause food poisoning? The term Salmonella refers to a specific group of gram-negative bacteria with the potential to cause gastrointestinal distress and other...

The Incidence of Salmonella Infections

Typhoidal Salmonella Salmonella enterica serotypes Typhi, Sendai, and Paratyphi A, B, or C are found exclusively in humans. These serotypes, collectively referred to as typhoidal Salmonella, cause enteric fever (also...

The Prevalence of Salmonella in Food and Elsewhere

Most Salmonella infections are caused by eating contaminated food. One study found that 87% of all confirmed cases of Salmonella are foodborne. Foods of animal origin, including meat, poultry, eggs...

Transmission of Salmonella Bacteria

In the past two decades, consumption of produce, especially sprouts, tomatoes, fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and nut butters, has been associated with Salmonella illnesses. The surface of fruits and vegetables...

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. Salmonella infections can have a broad range of illness, from no symptoms to severe illness. The most common clinical...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database