CHICAGO — Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that represents nearly fifty victims of the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak, has filed two additional lawsuits against Brinker Restaurant Corporation, the parent company of the Vernon Hills Chili’s restaurant where hundreds were sickened a year ago as a result of eating contaminated food. The lawsuits were filed Monday in Federal Court on behalf of Matt and Anna Miller, residents of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and Elizabeth Pusch, a resident of Vernon Hills, Illinois.
“If you would have asked me nine months ago whether we’d still be filing lawsuits on behalf of the victims of the Chili’s salmonella outbreak, I would have said ‘What? Are you crazy?’” said Denis Stearns, the Marler Clark partner handling the Chili’s outbreak litigation. “But here we are at the one-year anniversary of the Chili’s outbreak, with the Vernon Hills Chili’s now-closed due to sales that appear to have never recovered, and probably 100 victims still uncompensated, and without even an apology. I guess I was the crazy one for believing that Chili’s wanted to do what was right by people like Elizabeth Pusch, and Matt and Anna Miller.”
The Millers’ Story
On June 26, 2003, approximately one week before their wedding, Matt and Anna Miller made the fateful choice to eat at the Vernon Hills Chili’s. Not long after, they began to suffer painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and high fevers, symptoms of Salmonella infection.
Their symptoms worsened over the next two days before starting to slowly improve. By July 3, one day before their wedding, they were no longer confined to bed, but still they were far from well. Their wedding day turned out to be less a joyous occasion than it was an exercise in forced smiles and endurance. Unable to eat but a few bites of dinner, or wedding-cake, Matt and Anna ended up leaving the reception much earlier than plan. The next day went on their honeymoon, a trip mostly ruined, with their activities being limited because of frequent bouts of diarrhea.
Elizabeth Pusch consumed Salmonella-contaminated take-out food from the Vernon Hills Chili’s as part of her birthday celebration on June 26 2003. She began having symptoms of Salmonella infection two days later, and was hospitalized on July 2. Elizabeth was in the hospital 4 days, leaving her husband to attend to their children alone. After discharge, she continued to suffer from intense intestinal spasms, stomach pain, diarrhea, and sore joints for several weeks. Over time, Elizabeth developed acid reflux disease, and continues to suffer from occasional ankle pain and fatigue.
“We tried to avoid the filing of these lawsuits,” added Stearns. “But, sadly, we were left with no other options. Maybe a jury will be more sympathetic than Brinker has so far appeared to be.”
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark is the leading food illness litigation firm in the Untied States. The firm has achieved great success representing victims, mostly children, in the largest outbreaks across the country over the last ten years. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million E. coli settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. The firm represented most of the seriously injured victims in the 1998 Finely School outbreak, the 1999 Sun Orchard outbreak, the 2000 Sizzler outbreak, the 2001 Wendy’s outbreak, and the 2002 ConAgra outbreak. Total recoveries to date on behalf of victims exceed $100 Million.
Marler Clark sponsors Web sites about Salmonella, and about Salmonella litigation. The firm also sponsors the Salmonella blog, which continually updates with news about Salmonella and Salmonella outbreaks.
More about the Chili's Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.