Lawsuit Filed against KFC after Children become Ill with Salmonella Poisoning


BOULDER, CO — A lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Gianni and Kiley Velotta, and their parents, Natalie and Jamey Velotta, of Erie, Colorado. Gianni, 2, and Kiley, 3, became ill with Salmonella Newport infections after eating at a Lafayette KFC in January, 2002. The family retained Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its representation of victims of foodborne illness, in association with Judith Tartaglia, a well-respected Denver attorney. The children suffered severe cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting throughout the course of their salmonella infections, and two-year-old Gianni was hospitalized for dehydration and subsequently underwent surgery to remove hernias which were brought on by strain from his constant diarrhea and vomiting.

The lawsuit, which is based on the Colorado Product Liability Act, seeks damages for past and future medical and medical-related expenses, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, and states that KFC owed a duty to the plaintiffs to manufacture a product that was fit for human consumption. It cites Boulder County Health Department records which document findings that the cause of the Velotta children’s salmonella infections was popcorn chicken purchased at the Lafayette KFC.

“Health department records show that KFC was not taking the necessary precautions to ensure its customers were served unadulterated food, and these children became the innocent victims of KFC’s negligence,” said William Marler, attorney for the Velottas.

The complaint, which was filed in Boulder County Superior Court, also states that in its evaluation of the Lafayette KFC, the Boulder County Health Department noted two points of possible cross-contamination between chicken and other foods, as well as poor hygiene by KFC employees and a “failure to maintain food at proper holding temperatures.”

Prior to his illness, Gianni Velotta was a rambunctious child. Since his infection and subsequent surgery, he has become very shy, and is afraid for anyone other than close family members to touch him. Gianni developed a fear of going to the doctor, which he still has to do on a regular basis. “Gianni Velotta was clearly impacted both physically and emotionally by this ordeal,” Marler continued. “The effects linger even a year later. What happened throughout the course of Gianni’s salmonella infection could ultimately affect him for the rest of his life.”

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BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of all food-borne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Since 1993 Marler Clark has successfully resolved well over a thousand food-borne illness matters. Total recoveries exceed $75 million. Marler Clark is currently lead counsel in actions resulting from E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, Norwalk Virus or Hepatitis A outbreaks in several states. Marler Clark has also litigated on behalf of children against KFC, Bauer Meats, IBP, Excel, McDonalds, Hardees, Wendy’s, Subway, Sizzler, and Carl's Jr.. Marler Clark recently secured a verdict of $4.75 million against a School District in Eastern Washington.

More about the Colorado KFC Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.