Salmonella Outbreak - Poison in our Schools?


Food Safety Attorney comments on outbreak at Kodiak Christian School

SEATTLE—A recent outbreak at Kodiak Christian School in Kodiak, Alaska, sickened nearly 50 students and hospitalized several. Health officials are investigating the outbreak to determine whether Salmonella or another foodborne pathogen was present in the school lunch on Halloween.

William Marler is managing partner of Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for successfully representation of victims of foodborne illness. The firm represents children who were hospitalized after eating E. coli O157:H7-contaminated lettuce in school lunch last month in San Diego as well as 45 school children who became ill after eating chicken tenders contaminated with anhydrous ammonia served in school lunch in Joliet, Illinois, in November, 2002.

“Outbreaks in California and Alaska schools during the last two months confirm what the General Accounting Office found in its 2003 study of foodborne illness in our schools – that the food served might be safe, that it might be prepared properly, and that there might be poison in our schools,” said Marler. “That leaves a lot of doubt in my mind.”

In September, the Washington State Supreme Court affirmed a Jury’s verdict of $4.75 million against a small, rural School District in Eastern Washington for undercooking hamburger that was contaminated with E. coli and was served to elementary students for lunch in 1998. Marler Clark represented the most severely injured children in this outbreak.

“For some of our children, a hot school lunch may be one of the best meals of the day,” Marler continued. “It is a shame that children continue to be made ill because of what they eat at school. This latest outbreak proves that not enough emphasis is being put on school food safety and that there still is poison in our schools.”

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BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne 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 Salmonella outbreaks in Washington, Oregon, California, North Carolina, Michigan and New York. See www.foodborneillness.com.