Victim of Tainted Burger Gets $ 15.6 Million in Suit

A Washington state court Wednesday approved the settlement of a lawsuit under which a 12-year-old girl who nearly died after eating a tainted hamburger will get $ 15.6 million.

Under the settlement Foodmaker Inc., operator of Jack-in-the-Box restaurants, meat processor Von Stores Inc. and various slaughterhouses will pay the sum to Brianne Kiner, said her lawyer, William Marler.

Kiner, who fell into a 42-day coma after eating a hamburger at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant in January 1993, was the most seriously affected survivor of meat tainted with the e. coli bacteria that killed three children and sickened some 500 people in the Seattle area in 1992 and 1993.

Doctors gave Kiner no chance to survive when she fell into the coma. They urged her family several times to disconnect life-support machines that were keeping her alive, Marler said.

But she awoke from the coma and was released from the hospital in June 1993.

Marler said Kiner is in rehabilitation at a school in Santa Fe, N.M., where she "walks and talks, rides horses and swims."

But she has become an insulin-dependent diabetic whose kidneys are likely to fail during her life; her large intestine had to be removed, and a stroke she suffered during her coma has left her with "some cognitive impairment," Marler said.

Marler said the money, less a 21 percent legal fee approved by the court, will go toward paying for Kiner's lifetime care. He said the settlement is the largest ever negotiated in a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Washington.

Insurers for Foodmaker and the meat processing companies have paid out more than $ 50 million to settle about 95 percent of the lawsuits stemming from the E. coli cases, Marler said.