ALBERT LEA, MN – On Wednesday, Seattle-based Marler Clark filed its third lawsuit on behalf of a victim of last year’s E. coli O157:H7 outbreak traced to Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota. The lawsuit was filed against Taco John’s in Minnesota state court in Albert Lea on behalf of Albert Lea resident Julie Johnson and her young son, Mitchell. Mitchell is one of at least 33 Minnesota residents who became ill with E. coli infections after eating contaminated food at Taco John’s restaurants in late November and early December, 2006.
On the heels of investigations into other large E. coli outbreaks traced to California produce, the Food and Drug Administration announced that investigators from FDA and the state of California, working in conjunction with state health officials in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, had isolated the Taco John’s outbreak strain of E. coli from dairy farms near California’s Central Valley, where the contaminated spinach was grown, on January 12.
“It’s time for restaurants to demand more stringent safety standards on the part of their fresh produce suppliers,” said William Marler, attorney for Ms. Johnson. “Taco John’s and companies like Taco Bell need to use their purchasing power as an influence for industry change. This could become a classic economics lesson in supply and demand.”
Marler, who represents 14 victims of the Taco John’s E. coli outbreak, 20 victims of the Taco Bell E. coli outbreak, and 93 victims of last fall’s outbreak traced to contaminated spinach, is in Minneapolis, and will be speaking at the Minnesota Environmental Health Association’s winter conference at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education & Conference Center in St. Paul from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. His presentation is titled, “How to Sue a Health Department: Understanding the risk of legal liability for negligent inspections and other alleged failures.” He also publishes a blog about foodborne illness litigation, www.marlerblog.com.
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark, has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak cases for five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for a reported $12 million. Since that time, Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness, and has recovered several multi-million dollar settlements for children who developed HUS. The firm also represented over 50 people who became ill with hepatitis A after eating contaminated green onions at a Pennsylvania Chi-Chi’s restaurant in 2003, including one man who received a liver transplant as a result of his hepatitis A infection.
More about the Taco John's E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.