Joe Mandak of the Associated Press reported today that 14 out of 15 hepatitis claims against Chi Chi’s were settled in first mediation sessions. Two settlements involve more than $35,000 each, so they’ll have to be approved by the bankruptcy judge.

“The amount of the settlements are confidential, although the cases we resolved are certainly none of the long-term hospitalized cases or deaths or liver transplants,” said attorney William Marler, whose Seattle-based firm Marler Clark specializes in tainted food litigation.

“What we dealt with is people who were sick for three to six weeks and had your standard, but horrible, hepatitis A infection,” Marler said of the first round of mediation, which occurred privately late last week near Pittsburgh.
A second round of mediation is being scheduled for late next month, Marler said.

The cost of mediation is being split between plaintiffs’ attorneys. My firm represents 85 of the 300 plaintiffs. Most of the others are represented by local Pittsburgh attorneys.

Chi-Chi’s will try to recoup some of its losses from the onion suppliers through bankruptcy proceedings, Marler said.