Second E. coli lawsuit filed against Taco John’s by Iowa resident


WATERLOO, IA – A second lawsuit was filed against Taco John’s this afternoon on behalf of a victim of the recent E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that was traced to contaminated lettuce served at Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota. The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Iowa on behalf of Waterloo resident Karen Hibben-Levi. Ms. Hibben-Levi is represented by the Seattle attorneys at Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness, who filed its first E. coli lawsuit against Taco John’s on December 14.

A joint investigation by Iowa and Minnesota health officials indicated that E. coli-contaminated lettuce was the source of the Taco John’s E. coli outbreak, which ultimately resulted in 77 E. coli cases among customers who ate at Taco John’s locations between November 28 and December 6. On December 13, Taco John’s announced that the company had contracted with a new vendor to supply produce to its approximately 100 Midwest franchises.

“E. coli in lettuce has become almost a systemic problem for the fresh produce industry,” said William Marler, attorney for Ms. Hibben-Levi. “Given the recent history of lettuce E. coli outbreaks, I question Taco John’s’ decision to switch produce suppliers. At this point, the issue is at the farm level, not at the distribution level, and it seems that one supplier’s produce is not likely safer than the next.”

Marler, who writes frequent posts about foodborne illness litigation on his blog, www.marlerblog.com, has represented hundreds of victims of E. coli outbreaks traced to contaminated produce, and currently represents 93 victims of the E. coli outbreak that was traced to contaminated spinach in September, as well as 20 victims of the E. coli outbreak that was traced to contaminated lettuce served at Taco Bell locations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in November and December.

“Instead of looking at one restaurant or one supplier, it’s time we took a hard look at all aspects of lettuce production in this country – from farm to fork – and came up with some real solutions to prevent future outbreaks,” Marler continued. “It’s time for the federal legislature to take up this issue and bring all parties involved, including players from the fresh produce industry, university researchers, FDA, CDC, and consumers, to the table and hammer out real solutions to this recurring problem.”

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks since Bill Marler represented victims of the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. The firm has litigated high profile E. coli cases against McDonald’s, Wendy’s, ConAgra, Pat & Oscar’s, and other food companies.

More about the Taco John's E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.