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Some not in jail for tacos at heart of suit

At least some of the 124 county jail prisoners who sued the county last week over bad taco meat should not have to worry about long-term health effects because they were not in jail the day the fateful meal was served.

The lawsuit, filed by Houston attorney Clement Aldridge Jr. on behalf of the current and former inmates, accuses the county and food contractor ABL Management of food mishandling that led to prisoners who ate tacos experiencing salmonella poisoning.

However, jail records show that several of the plaintiffs were not listed in prisoner manifests the day of the taco meal.

Sheriff Gean Leonard, whose agency oversees the jail, said the lawsuit "surprises me in one instance, in the sense that we apparently must have inmates in the jail who we have no idea are there."

Records of menus indicate that day was March 27, 2004 — not four days earlier as stated in the lawsuit.

The prisoners in the suit claim they suffered salmonella infection, fevers and liver damage. The lawsuit also seeks redress for prisoners’ "future mental anguish and emotional trauma, including fear of cancer."

Leonard said he hoped that fear was groundless "because, otherwise, a lot of us, particularly in this part of the country, are in trouble, including me."