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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Wyoming Legislature set to pass House Bill 54 – The “Bill Marler Full Employment Act” – Thank you Sue Wallis.

Thank you Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, Wyoming. Like the Seattle Times, how did you know that I did not have enough work suing Cargill, Nestle, Con Agra, McDonald’s, Peanut Corporation of America, Kellogg, Dole, Nebraska Beef, Whole Foods, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc., in food poisoning cases? How did you also know that I love spending time skiing and fly fishing in your state?

Sue, thank you for sponsoring House Bill 54 (a.k.a., The Wyoming Food Freedom Act) – where can I send my check for your re-election?

The Bill, if enacted, would exempt producers from licenses, inspections and certifications when selling directly to consumers.

Sue, this Bill will be a big help for my struggling business and certainly allow me to spend more time in Wyoming suing those exempt producers, who, unlicensed, uninspected and uncertified are bound to poison their customers. I can also imagine that most of those producers are farmers and ranchers with little or no insurance to cover what can be millions in medical bills for poisoned children – I have always wanted a ranch in Wyoming – perhaps near a ski resort and trout stream? Sue, you are the best. Perhaps I can host a raw milk and hamburger fundraiser for you out at the new ranch?

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle (a.k.a, “liberal media”) has been giving some coverage to the bill. Michelle Dynes just wrote, “Food bill moves on to full House.” As he penned:

House Bill 54 would exempt producers from licenses, inspections and certifications when selling directly to consumers. The Wyoming Food Freedom Act also would encourage the expansion and availability of farmers’ markets, roadside stands and farm-based sales….

Now that is a money move – Cha-ching!

Those damn Op-ed folks at the same paper do not seem to have the same view of food safety as Sue. The editors posted, “Food bill is conservatism run amok” a few days ago. The editors do not seem to like Sue’s “assert[ion] that the bill ‘seeks to clarify the fundamental right of Wyoming citizens to eat whatever they want to eat.’” The editors assert that they:

… can’t find anything in the Wyoming or U.S. constitutions that even talks about what people should be able to eat. If there is a "fundamental right" to eat whatever you want — and to peddle it — it is so only in the mind of ultra-conservatives who think any form of governmental action is interference in their lives. …

Ms. Wallis would have you believe that the government has no right to meddle in interactions between buyers and sellers. But buyers, for the most part, believe the goods they are getting are safe — at least partly because they have been inspected by the government.

Indeed, HB 54 takes the philosophy of "let the buyer beware" beyond the point of good sense: Who has the ability to test — prior to consumption — whether a food product is safe? …

The editors then resort to the old “nanny state” argument:

One of the key roles of government is to ensure the public welfare. Inspections of foodstuffs and licensing of sellers do just that. HB 54 is conservatism at its worst. It should be rejected.

Sue, do not pay any attention to the “liberal media” in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Pass the bill and I’ll see ya out at the ranch.

  • Christina

    Lucky you! I predict you’ll be rubbing shoulders with Jackson Hole nabobs at your open house within five years.

  • mark mcafee

    Bill,
    Nice piece of Wyoming humor.
    I really do not think you understand Wyoming….these guys will also place you under citizens arrest and boot you out of the free territory. They do not like government meddling or lawyers either. This is the same place that is passing a bill that allows every Wyoming resident to carry a concealed weapon with out a permit.
    Lets all remember that the last deaths from milk was FDA PMO regulated and inspected pasteurized milk in MA…they killed three people with listeria and the FDA did nothing. So much for regulations being the grand safety system.
    Do not bet on an illness or a ranch with a trout stream to quickly…dreams like this are way premature. Keep on working Cargil and Tyson…they deserve it.
    Show me the last deer hunter to get sick from his, kitchen butchered, gut shot dear. Have not heard of that happening ever…thats Wyoming.
    All the best,
    Mark

  • Are you sure you’re just not sad that the statutory duties that predicate your legal causes of action will be taken away from you?
    How would you sue when there is no statutory duty via or inherent in food safety regulations? Never mind that Wyoming does not recognize statutory duties as per se anyway (only evidence of a duty lying in tort).
    I suppose you could still sue under simple negligence, but I were a smart Wyoming rancher (not agri-business, but the type this law is intending to help), I would require my customer to sign an indemnification form anyway, thereby negating my duty and your cause of action.
    Quite frankly, your blog post is self-serving precisely because it advocates for more regulation upon which you can base legal fees. Without regulation, where would your firm and livelihood be?
    This will be an inordinate help to consumers who want to eat and drink food produced locally by people they know and trust at prices not fettered by needless regulation. Plus, given the U.S.’s history of regulation-fetish, all consumers are on constructive notice that buying food at a farm that is unregulated is tantamount to the exercise of caveat emptor. And that’s okay. It is *okay* if buyers exercise responsibility as much as sellers should. That’s the Wyoming way.

  • Outhere

    On my understanding of this Sue Wallis happens to operate a food business that will directly benefit from not having to be inspected. I don’t care for regulations, however I do not believe an elected official should be responsible for passing laws to directly benefit themselves. I cannot wait for people to get sick and die from the lack of regulation. You the consumer are now responsible for ensuring that the products I made will not kill you despite the fact that I have no idea what I am doing in my dirty kitchen with my 35 cats. If you do not know that the wheat and nuts in my jam are in there and you do not ask feel free to get sick. If you have no idea how I store my raw meat, what it has come into contact with or how often I do not clean my utensils then feel free to purchase food from my farmer’s market stand. I can, will and look forward to the food problems this will create. Trust your neighbors, some of them are just like Ted Bundy and Jeff Dahmer.

  • Steve Lipton

    I’m wondering something…
    The unintentional food safety implications have me concerned, yes, But there are other implication I worry about maybe needlessly. I may have read this wrong, but does this essentially legalize Hash brownies or any other narcotic grown from plant material produced within the home and sold as a food or drink?

  • Dear Bill,
    Feel free to stay where you’re at. People here in Wyoming don’t like lawyers, big-city a-holes, and people like you who have no understanding of community, friendship, and neighborly behavior. If you do buy a ranch here, I hope you know how to run it because you’ll have a rough time finding employees willing to put up with your kind.
    As for Ms. Wallis directly benefitting from this, Outhere, you’re misinformed. This bill only benefits small, cottage industry, not retail businesses of the type Wallis runs. Sorry, your conspiracy is unfounded.
    Oh, and only idiots who live in cities and don’t know their neighbors’ names think that “Jeffrey Dahmer” lives next door. The rest of us have BBQs, share gardens, and interact on a daily basis with one another. You wouldn’t understand because concrete is an effective de-humanizer.

  • Debbie Richmond

    No doubt Sue Wallis and special interest groups are planning to sell horsemeat as well as part of the agenda, with her push to open up horse slaughter facilities in Wyoming.
    http://www.vetsforequinewelfare.org/medications.php
    I’m sure “mustang meat” is also on the planned menu. Paid for by the American taxpayers to the tune of billions, against their will.

  • Jenna

    Go SUE GO!
    No one is forcing anyone to buy home-made things. People are welcome to buy processed foods and nasty antibiotic feedlot fed beef.
    I don’t think you can have worthwhile opinion about so called “food safety” unless you have been to a feedlot, large commercial slaughterhouse, a commercial pig farm, large industrial dairy farm, or a caged chicken farm. If you can go to ALL of those places and look at that and say I am comfortable with how these animals are being treated and fed and either killed or collected, then by all means sound off.
    However, I think if you were to personally inspect he places where “home butchered” or “small facility butchered” meat (or dairy or farm raised eggs WHATEVER) comes from you would find yourself choosing home made stuff no matter how institutionalized you have become. Most small farmers and cottage industry type people will let you view or visit their prep areas and the place their products are made. Good luck doing that with your favorite slaughter house.
    In addition, these people often eat their own products, and feed them to their families,thus they are EXTRA careful not to make themselves and their families sick. They will throw out anything questionable and start over with a fresh batch. Because they work with their animals and product daily they know what to look for to see if something is off. Rather then some guy paid $8.50 an hour going down some mandatory checklist waiting to get off his shift. I mean what kind of psycho enjoys killing cattle all day– day in and day out. I wold rather have my meat slaughtered seasonally by someone who raised the cattle and is less worried about their quarterly statement to their investors and more worried about the health and well being to their animals and families.
    Only here in the US do we have such strange neuroses about “food safety.” Why don’t you become more of a world traveler and see that in most places around the world, the food sanitation is much less government controlled and they are less sick…In fact start with France, which in my not-so-humble-opinion is one of the food capitals of the world. Many of the milks for the cheeses are not pasteurized and most food purchases come from farmer’s markets.
    If you are still confused on this matter, please research, a good place to start is the book Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.