Jury Returns Verdict in Finley E. coli Trial


KENNEWICK, WA -- On Wednesday, January 31, 2001, after a three-week trial, a Benton County jury found the Finley School to be 100-percent responsible for the E. coli infections contracted by 11 children after the children ate taco meat contaminated with E. coli.

Attorneys for the children and their families, Bill Marler and Bruce Clark, partners in the Seattle, Washington law firm, Marler Clark, won unanimous verdicts from the 12-person jury. The jury determined that tacos served by the Finley School District were infected with the E. coli bacteria, and that all 11 children suffered infections as a result of exposure to the tainted meat.

“Every school district in the nation should be taking note of this verdict,” said Bill Marler. “Too many children get sick from food they are served at school. This jury sent a message: school districts will be held responsible for exposing innocent children to such danger.”

Bruce Clark added that few E. coli cases ever reach a courtroom, and that fewer still reach the stage where testimony is allowed regarding the impact E. coli infections have on victims. “The jury will now be hearing about the psychological effects the illnesses had on these children, as well as the risks of future medical complications that for at least one child, will include kidney failure and the need for transplants.”

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Bill Marler and Bruce Clark began litigating food borne illness cases in the aftermath of the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box outbreak, albeit on opposite sides. The pair subsequently teamed up, and, after adding counsel Denis Stearns and Andrew Weisbecker, created the firm Marler Clark. In the over two years that firm has been together, the attorneys have been lead counsel in successful actions stemming from E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Hepatitis outbreaks in a dozen states. The firm is also nationally recognized as a leader in foodborne illness litigation.

More information on E. coli O157:H7 and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome can be found on the Web.