Lawsuit Names Restaurant Manager as a Defendant
VERNON HILLS — Today a third lawsuit was filed against the company that owns the Vernon Hills Chili’s restaurant where last summer hundreds of people were sickened as a result of a salmonella outbreak that a Lake County Health Department report recently linked to “fecal/oral contamination of multiple food items” sold there. The lawsuit, filed in Lake County Superior Court, is the first to name Chili’s manager Matt Barbknecht as a defendant, along with Brinker Restaurant Corporation, owner of the Vernon Hill Chili’s.
The Seattle food-safety law firm, Marler Clark, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Angela Bond, a 27-year-old Lake Bluff resident who is a medical student at The Chicago Medical School in North Chicago, Illinois. Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, the well-respected Lake County law firm, is co-counsel counsel in the case. Together, these firms represent the majority of the outbreak victims.
“We have never before named a restaurant manager as a defendant like this,” said Denis Stearns, the Marler Clark partner handling the Chili’s outbreak litigation. “But we thought it was important to underline the message that this outbreak was, as the health department has said, the result of “poor judgment”. A decision was made to continue operating the restaurant despite not having hot water for one day, and no water for part of a second day. The person who made this decision should be held responsible, along with the restaurant’s owner, for the damage that resulted.”
Angela became seriously ill as a result of her salmonella poisoning, forcing her to the hospital to seek emergency care. It also forced her to miss exams and fall so far behind in her studies that as a result, she will have to re-take classes before being allowed to continue with her medical school curriculum. Angela also incurred big medical bills that as a student she could not afford to pay. Chili’s was asked to cover the bills until a settlement could be worked out, but this request was met with silence.
“I had no idea,” Angela said, “that the simple act of eating dinner at Chili’s had the potential to mess my life up so badly. I was infected with the bacteria for months and had to be re-tested several times before finally testing negative in late January. And with still unpaid bills, medical school classes I need to re-take, and my credit-rating in jeopardy, who knows how long I’ll be living with the consequences of all this?”
BACKGROUND: In addition to the victims of the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak, Stearns and his partners represent over 100 victims of the Chi-Chi’s hepatitis-A outbreak near Pittsburgh. Marler Clark has achieved great success representing victims, mostly children, in large outbreaks across the country over the last ten years. The firm has also obtained record verdicts and settlements on behalf of thousands of people infected with E. coli, Salmonella, hepatitis-A, Listeria, Shigella, and Campylobacter. Total recoveries to date on behalf of such victims exceed $100 million.
More about the Chili's Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.