A Seattle law firm announced a settlement has been reached between 49 victims of the salmonella outbreak traced to the former Chili’s Bar and Grill in Vernon Hills and Brinker International, owner of the franchise.
The settlement included awards to victims from Antioch, Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, Lake Bluff, Lake Villa, Lake Forest, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mundelein and Vernon Hills.
Marlene Hunt reported that Marler Clark, a firm specializing in the representation of food poisoning victims, filed individual lawsuits and a class action lawsuit in federal court in Chicago during 2003 that sought punitive damages on behalf of all outbreak victims. The settlement was worked out before the trial was scheduled to start. Due to confidentiality agreements, the amount of the settlement has not been revealed.
Marler Clark partner Denis Stearns said the firm was “far along in the process of preparing these cases for trial when settlement discussions finally seemed to turn serious.” "We believed strongly in our case and the importance of the point we were trying to make about food safety and corporate responsibility. This was a case we really wanted to take to trial. But when finally faced with the chance to not only fully compensate our clients, but to do so in a way that showed the clients that, ‘We really did send a message with this one’ — that was something we had to recommend accepting."