Friends and enemies say that I have a less than eclectic reading style – I will read most anything that has my name in it. So, although I may well have been attracted by my name in lights (or at least in the article), I stayed for the smack down delivered on one Mr. Austin “Jack” DeCoster (a.k.a., the bad egg) delivered by crack Ag reporters Chuck Jolley and Dan Murphy. Chuck Jolley is a free-lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of Ag industry topics for Cattlenetwork.com and Agnetwork.com. Dan Murphy is a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator. Both took Jack to task for both his less than stellar past and an outbreak and recall that will cripple the Egg Industry for some time.
Here are their stories – and, thanks Chuck and Dan for the off-hand compliments:
Because those are the only possible ways this guy escapes what’s coming next: A company-crippling lawsuit on behalf of dozens of people hospitalized after eating some seriously bad egg salad, the settlement of which will be of such a size it’ll be sayonara for DeCoster ever running a food-related business in his or any other lifetime.
That suit is already in the works, courtesy of Bill Marler, the Seattle attorney who’s made a career—and an awfully nice living—out of hauling bad actors like DeCoster into court for the legal and financial equivalent of a schoolyard beating.
Most of Marler’s defendants never return to the businesses they mis-managed; the majority of the companies he’s dragged through the courts are no longer in operation. Truth is, the food industry is probably better off without them.
What we have now are too many businesses that need to be put shuttered immediately and it takes lawyers like Bill Marler to do it only after a recall that sickened thousands and killed hundreds. They’re doing a job that tax dollars should be doing.
Bottom line: Marler, et al. are pariahs, hated by the major trade associations that serve the food industry. “Damn ambulance chasers” is just one of the more polite terms I’ve heard when talking with association execs. Maybe if a few associations and the feds ramped up their efforts at policing food safety, there would be a lot fewer ambulances to chase and that “safest food supply in the world” claim wouldn’t sound quite so hollow.