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Final Report: Chili’s Salmonella Outbreak Linked to “Poor Judgment”

Question remains whether sales-quota drove manager to keep restaurant open despite lack of water. Lawyers say more lawsuits to come.


January 12, 2003

VERNON HILLS—The Lake County Health Department issued its final report on the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak yesterday, declaring that “a large number of ill employees at the facility, [and] a general lack of handwashing” sickened hundreds of Chili’s customers when they consumed food contaminated with human feces. In what health officials have called “poor judgment,” the report notes that the decision to open the restaurant despite the lack of hot water one day, and any water the next, contributed to and exacerbated the spread of the salmonella to a greater number of people. The majority of the people made sick were sickened on these two days.

Working together, Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has a national reputation for the successful representation of victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, and the well-respected Waukegan firm of Salvi, Schostok and Pritchard, have filed several lawsuits against Brinker Restaurant Corporation, the owner of the Vernon Hills Chili’s that caused the salmonella outbreak, with plans to file several more.

“The Lake County Health Department is to be congratulated for the thoroughness of its investigation,” said Denis Stearns, the Marler Clark partner handling these cases for his firm. “And for the criticism it quite rightly levied against Chili’s management. Why anyone would operate a restaurant for a week with a broken dish-machine, and for two days without an adequate water supply. It simply boggles the mind.”

Continue reading Final Report: Chili’s Salmonella Outbreak Linked to “Poor Judgment” on the Marler Clark website.

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