The Courier reported on a federal lawsuit that was settled out of court that had been brought on behalf of two of our clients who became ill after eating at Taco John’s restaurants in November 2006. They were two of about 80 people who reported illness after eating at Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota in late November and early December. Lettuce tainted with a strain of the E. coli bacteria was blamed on the outbreak. The terms of the legal settlements were confidential, and the cases were formally dismissed in October.

Public health officials said food at Taco John’s restaurants in Austin and Albert Lea, Minn., and Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa, were tainted. According to the FDA, 81 people became ill with E. coli infections after eating at Taco John’s, including 33 from Minnesota, 47 from Iowa, and one from Wisconsin. Twenty-six people were hospitalized with E. coli infections, and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication that can cause permanent kidney damage. In Black Hawk County, health officials found 33 people ill with E. coli infections after eating at the Cedar Falls restaurant. Fourteen were hospitalized.

I must commend executives, lawyers and insurers at Taco John’s for taking care of Taco John’s customers.  Not only did Taco John’s early on offer to pay victims’ medical bills, but it also stepped up and resolved claims and then looked to the suppliers of the contaminated lettuce for reimbursement.  To date, most restaurants refuse to do that – such as Taco Bell and Wendy’s.  Let’s see, that buys them more lawsuits and bad publicity – smart – not.