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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Second Taco John’s customer sues over E. coli outbreak

Todd Dvorak of the Associated Press in Iowa City, Iowa wrote this afternoon about the lawsuit we filed today on behalf of Karen Hibben-Levi.  The full story can be found at www.businessweek.com.

Fast food chain Taco John’s was hit with another lawsuit Tuesday, this one by a customer who contracted E. coli after eating a super burrito and a hard shell taco from a Waterloo franchise.  The lawsuit is the second filed in federal court since as many as 76 people were sickened after eating at Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota in late November and early December. Health officials have blamed lettuce tainted with a strain of the E. coli bacteria.

Since the outbreak, Taco John’s has taken several steps to assure customers that its food is safe. Last week, the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based company severed ties with the company that distributes produce to more than 100 franchises in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

But Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler, who represents both plaintiffs, said changing distributors does not solve the problem. He said health experts believe the lettuce was tainted in the growing fields of California or Arizona.

"At this point, the issue is at the farm level, not at the distribution level, and it seems that one supplier’s produce is not likely safer than the next," said Marler, of Marler Clark, one of the nation’s leading food-borne illness law firms.

You might find the video ot the Taco John’s CEO’s press conference interesting – at least at this conference he does not offer to pay the medical bills – I wonder what changed his mind?