February 26, 1995
The family of a Redmond girl poisoned in the E. coli epidemic met with attorneys Saturday, in part to decide what to do with $ 15.6 million from a settlement with Jack In The Box restaurants and several other companies.
If a court approves the agreement later this week, as attorneys in the case expect, the family of 12-year-old Brianne Kiner will have a five-member board of trustees manage the funds, said Gregory Platz, spokesman for the Kiners and their attorney in the case. Some of the money may go toward annuities, he and the attorney said. But they said it was too early to be more specific.
"This is the largest personal-injury lawsuit settled in the state of Washington," Platz said Saturday.
Brianne was poisoned with the E. coli bacteria after eating a hamburger at a Jack In The Box restaurant. She was 9 when she lapsed into a 40-day coma in early 1993.
Within the past month, attorneys for the girl and her family reached the settlement with the San Diego-based Foodmaker Inc., which is the parent company of the restaurant; Von's Stores Inc.; and numerous meat processors.
Insurers of the companies would pay the cash settlement in a lump sum, said William Marler, the Kiners' attorney in the case.
"It's money she gets right now," he said. "There's no one who deserves it more than Brianne."
At a news conference Monday, Brianne's parents, Rex and Suzanne Kiner, plan to announce the creation of a foundation in their daughter's name for special-needs children, Platz said. He said he didn't know if money from the settlement would fund the foundation.
A yet-to-be-determined King County Superior Court judge is scheduled to review the settlement offer Wednesday and decide whether to approve it.
The $ 15.6 settlement is about $ 600,000 more than reported earlier, Marler said. Initially, the Kiners and their attorneys planned to announce the settlement Wednesday. But word of the settlement circulated in a wire service story Friday, so Marler and Platz were scrambling to answer questions about it Saturday.
Marler will release the terms of the settlement, including more details on how the money will be used, at a press conference Monday in Seattle.
Brianne's parents also will be there to describe her recovery in the past two years and to show a 22-minute video of her life since she was poisoned. Brianne is attending a special rehabilitation school in the Southwest to help her with learning disabilities she developed from the coma and a stroke.
Brianne was among an estimated 600 people sickened by contaminated, undercooked hamburgers sold by Jack In The Box restaurants. Three children died, including 2-year-old Michael Nole of Tacoma.
The families of the three dead children have successfully sued the restaurant chain or its parent company.