March 26, 2007
Portland Oregonian Feature on Food-Borne Illness Litigation
Sunday's Portland Oregonian ran a feature on food-borne illness litigation. The attorneys featured are plaintiff's lawyer Bill Marler (Seattle, WA) and food industry defense lawyer David Ernst (Portland, OR). Excerpt:
Food-borne-illness cases almost never go to trial.
Strict product liability laws mean Marler and other plaintiffs' attorneys don't have to prove fault; they just have to show that unsafe food caused an injury.
"Once you've established that the person became sick from eating at a Safeway or McDonald's, the only question is how big the check is," says Dr. William Keene, a senior epidemiologist for the state of Oregon.
In addition, the immense power of media reports of such outbreaks and the visceral reaction from consumers, who shun products and restaurants as though the plague had broken out, crush business. The sooner claims end and news subsides, the faster brands recover.
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