Seattle Metropolitan Magazine writer Jill Watanabe and I spoke a few weeks ago. Here is her take on the Peanut Butter Mess:
Peanut butter, meet food fighter. Seattle attorney Bill Marler just dipped his knife into your jar and, well, your salmonella secret is over.
Marler broke the story on Peanut Corporation of America’s not-so-smooth business practices in late January. On his blog, he posted a leaked copy of an FDA report confirming that the peanut processor had knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted products from its plant in Blakely, Georgia. The media quickly went nuts spreading the news, and calls from salmonella-sickened victims began rolling in. Nearly four months later, Marler’s firm is in contact with more than 50 potential clients seeking lawsuits against PCA and its CEO, Stewart Parnell.
Marler’s work doesn’t stop—nor did it start—at Big Peanut. He’s already the nation’s foremost food borne-illness litigator. His vast enemy list includes Chili’s, Dole, KFC, Sizzler, and Wendy’s, and he’s won more than $300 million for his food-poisoned clients. Now Marler’s career may take another path, as he awaits a decision on his bid to become under secretary of the FDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service agency. “After Obama got elected, I wrote an open letter [to the new under secretary of FSIS] and posted it on my blog,” he explains. “Then I started getting calls from people in and out of government, saying ‘You have to fill out these forms.’” But Marler knows the government might be wary of “letting a trial lawyer in,” and hopes the sentiment doesn’t stick to the roof of the selection committee’s mouth.