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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Chi-Chi’s checks to arrive soon

As Jason Cato of the Tribune-Review reported today, checks should start arriving in a few weeks for nearly 5,000 people who claimed part of an $800,000 lawsuit settlement against Chi-Chi’s following a hepatitis A outbreak two years ago at a restaurant in Beaver County.
From the article:

Though nearly 10,000 people got shots to help stave off the illness following the fall 2003 incident involving tainted green onions at the Chi-Chi’s in the Beaver Valley Mall, only 4,931 returned the necessary forms by the Oct. 24 deadline, said Bill Marler, the Seattle lawyer who handled the class action lawsuit. Each of those people will receive a check for $162.23.
Marler, who specializes in food-poison cases, said he thinks the settlement is fair — especially since it involved people who simply got shots and did not necessarily contract the disease.
“It’s in line with similar settlements we’ve made in the past,” he said.
Some 660 people developed hepatitis A after eating at the Center Township Chi-Chi’s in October or November 2003. Four people died.
About 550 lawsuits were filed against the restaurant chain by those people and their families. Marler handled 75 of those cases and has settled them all, including a settlement of $6.25 million for Richard Miller, of Beaver, who needed a liver transplant after contracting hepatitis A.
The company has paid more than $40 million to settle cases.
Marler said fewer than 10 lawsuits remain outstanding, including a case for one of the deceased. He expects those to be settled soon and credits the speedy settlements in large part on the fact that Chi-Chi’s had already filed for bankruptcy when the outbreak occurred.
“I think Chi-Chi’s and their insurance companies have done a remarkable job at getting this done,” Marler said. “It doesn’t seem short in real people’s time, but in a legal sense it’s gone fairly quickly.”