foodborne illness litigation

William D. Marler (, an attorney at Marler Clark LLP PS ( has extensive experience representing victims of bacterial and viral food poisonings. Since 1993, Marler Clark has represented victims of most of the largest foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, including the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli, 1998 Odwalla E. coli, 1999 Sun Orchard Salmonella, 2002 ConAgra E. coli and Chili’s Salmonella outbreaks, the 2003 Chi Chi’s Hepatitis A outbreak, and the 2004 Sheetz Salmonella outbreak.
Bill feels that a lawyer should do more than just sue corporations. That is why he speaks frequently on issues of safe food and formed Outbreak, Inc. (, a not-for-profit business dedicated to explaining to companies why it is in their interest to avoid food illness litigation. Bill also has created ( as a way of updating the Web on issues of interest to him.

In an article in Ontario Farmer, Jim Romahn wrote about my recent talk at University of Guelph about foodborne illness litigation:

U.S. lawyer Bill Marler of Seattle, Wash. Was cited as telling an audience at the University of Guelph recently that medicare has spared Canadian food companies from multi-million-dollar lawsuits when their products poison consumers.
Marler was further cited as saying that Canadian lawyers might file class-action lawsuits, but there won’t be much money for the victims.
There have, however, been Canadian food poisonings every bit as spectacular as the U.S. cases. The largest in Canadian history involved lunchmate products from Schneider Corp.; there is an ongoing lawsuit between Schneiders and cheese supplier Parmalat.
Marler talked about the lack of legal action in Canada in response to a question about the recent food poisonings of dozens of people who ate at a cafeteria at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton.

Continue Reading Canadian food companies escape food poisoning litigation; because of Medicare, lawyer says suits are not lucrative enough to attract lawyers

Thursday, June 16, 2005
12:30 — 1:30 pm
OVC Learning Centre
Room 1715
University of Guelph
I will discuss why processors, ingredient suppliers, restaurant operators, and any operations involved in the growth, processing, and distribution of food products should understand the legal consequences and dangers of what may happen when foodborne illness strikes as a result of one of their products sold in the U.S. I will discuss issues such as liability and how it is determined, the discovery process, and the importance of open communications in the event of an outbreak.
For further information, please contact Doug Powell at 519-835-3015 or

Recently the media has focused public attention on a one inch piece (uncooked) of a finger found in the chili at a fast-food restaurant. Claims and counterclaims have flown. But, at this writing, most indications point to a grotesque hoax.
It’s too bad that some people make bogus, unsupportable claims of food-borne illness. But they do, and that means that health officials — and lawyers — need reliable criteria for identifying illegitimate claims.

Continue Reading How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety

Unfortunately, some people make suspect and unsupportable foodborne illness claims. It is important to develop a reliable method of identifying suspect, unsupportable, or illegitimate foodborne illness claims. In my experience, food industry corporations over-emphasize, and thus over react to, the presence of such claims. Such a strategy can lead to the denial of legitimate claims. Denying legitimate claims increases the likelihood of missing important measures to improve food safety. Not improving food safety increases the risk of poisoning consumers and resulting litigation. Litigation not only carries its own expenses, but the threat of public relations headaches as well.
In a paper I wrote for the Defense Research Institute (DRI) for an upcoming speech at their conference on foodborne illness claims, I discuss how to evaluate whether a claim is legitimate:

Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to determine the strength of a foodborne illness claim