Directory Profile

Bill Marler

Bill Marler

An accomplished attorney and national expert in food safety, William (Bill) Marler has become the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world. Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life altering injury and even death.

He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the company. The 2011 book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat, by best-selling author Jeff Benedict, chronicles the Jack in the Box outbreak and the rise of Bill Marler as a food safety attorney.

For the last 20 years, he has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States. He has filed lawsuits against such companies as Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Cargill, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald’s, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, securing over $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illnesses.

Among the most notable cases he has litigated, Bill counts those of nineteen-year-old dancer Stephanie Smith, who was sickened by an E. coli-contaminated hamburger that left her brain damaged and paralyzed, and Linda Rivera, a fifty-seven-year-old mother of six from Nevada, who was hospitalized for over 2 years after she was stricken with what her doctor described as “the most severe multi-organ [bowel, kidney, brain, lung, gall bladder, and pancreas] case of E. coli mediated HUS I have seen in my extensive experience.”

New York Times reporter Michael Moss won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Smith’s case, which was settled by Cargill in 2010 for an amount “to care for her throughout her life.” Linda’s story hit the front page of the Washington Post and became Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s touchstone for successfully moving forward the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010.

More Than an Attorney

Bill Marler’s advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims’ organizations, and helping spur the passage of the 2010-2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

At little or no cost to event organizers, Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding it. He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety, and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the nation.

He is a frequent writer on topics related to foodborne illness. Bill’s articles include “Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to Determine the Strength of a Foodborne Illness Claim”, “Food Claims and Litigation”, “How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety”, and “How to Document a Food Poisoning Case” (co-authored with David Babcock.) He is the publisher of the online news site, Food Safety News and his award winning blog, www.marlerblog.com is avidly read by the food safety and legal communities. He is frequent media guest on food safety issues and has been profiled in numerous publications.

In 2010 Bill was awarded the NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Education and in 2008 earned the Outstanding Lawyer Award by the King County Bar Association. He has also received the Public Justice Award from the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

Bill graduated from the Seattle University School of Law in 1987, and in 1998 was the Law School’s “Lawyer in Residence.” In 2011 he was given Seattle University’s Professional Achievement Award. He is a former board member of the Washington State Trial Lawyers, a member of the board of directors of Bainbridge Youth Services, former President of the Governor-appointed Board of Regents at Washington State University, and a member of the Children’s Hospital Circle of Care.

Bill is married to Julie Marler and has three daughters, Morgan, Olivia, and Sydney.

EDUCATION

  • 1987 - J.D. Seattle University School of Law
  • 1982 - B.A.s Political Science, Economics, English, Washington State University

AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS

  • 2013 - Seattle University Distinguished Law Graduate Award
  • 2011 - Seattle University Professional Achievement Award
  • 2011 to Present - ABA Journal “Blawg 100” Best Legal Blogs
  • 2010 - NSF Food Safety Leadership Award: Innovation in Education
  • 2009 to Present - Best Lawyers in America
  • 2002 to Present - Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys
  • 2008 - Public Justice Award, Washington State Trial Lawyer’s Association
  • 2008 - Outstanding Lawyer Award, Seattle/King County Bar Association
  • 1998 to Present - “Super Lawyer”, Washington State Attorneys
  • 1998 - 2004 Governor Appointee, Washington State University Board of Regents Chairman
  • 1997 - Distinguished Achievement Award, WSU College of Liberal Arts

PUBLICATIONS

  • 2011 - Separating the Chaff From the Wheat: The Reality of Proving a Foodborne Illness Case. White Paper June.
  • 2010 - Lawyers, Microbiologists, and Safe Food, Microbiologist Magazine, Vol 11, No 2, June
  • 2009 - Legal Issues for Food Safety: What Every Food Professional Should Know, Food Safety and Quality Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 3 September
  • 2009 - Serving Up Trouble, American Association of Justice Trial Magazine, Vol 45, No 2 February
  • 2007 - Food Safety and the CEO:(PDF) Keys to Bottom Line Success, Food Safety Magazine, October/November.
  • 2005 - Food Claims and Litigation (PDF), Food Safety In-sight Newsletter by Environ Health Associates, Inc, February
  • 2005 - Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to Determine the Strength of a Foodborne Illness Claim (PDF), Paper presented at Defense Research Institute meeting on Food Liability
  • 2005 - How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety, Food Safety Magazine, June-July.
  • 2004 - How to Document a Food Poisoning Case, (co-authored with David Babcock) Trial Magazine, November

PROFILES

  • 2015 - Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler, By Naomi Tomky March 24, 2015
  • 2015 - The New Yorker - A Bug in the System, The New Yorker, Wil S. Hylton, February 2, 2015.
  • 2014 - Q&A: Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler on What Not to Eat, The National Law Journal, Interview with Jenna Greene, November 3, 2014.
  • 2012 - Bill Marler, Attorney, Blogger, and Food Safety Advocate, Talks Turkey (Or Spinach, Rather), Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 2.
  • 2012 - Bill Marler Interview, Part Two: His Most Difficult Cases and Lobbying Congress, Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 14.
  • 2012 - Profiles in Public Health Law: Interview with William “Bill” Marler CDC Public Health Law News, July.
  • 2012 - Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler On Sprouts, Raw Milk, and Why “Local” Isn’t Always Safer Blisstree.com, Hanna Brooks Olsen, March 5.
  • 2011 - Listeria outbreak draws Seattle lawyer to battle, Associated Press, Shannon Dininny, October 9.
  • 2011 - Food-Borne Illness Attorney: Top Foods to Avoid, ABC News, Neal Karlinsky, September 29.
  • 2011 - How to Keep Food Free of Salmonella: Lawsuits, The Atlantic, Barry Estabrook, August 31.
  • 2011 - More Stomach-Churning Facts about the E. Coli Outbreak, New York Times, Mark Bittman, June 8.
  • 2011 - Bill Marler: A Personal Injury Attorney and More, The Xemplar, Nicole Black, June 1.
  • 2011 - Good Food Hero: Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney, Good Food World, Gail Nickel-Kailing, May 23.
  • 2011- Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat. , Inspire Books, Jeff Benedict, May 15
  • 2011 - New Book Chronicles Islander Marler’s Work, Bainbride Island Review, Connie Mears, May 13.
  • 2010 - Food Safety Lawyer Puts His Money Where Your Mouth Is, AOL News, Andrew Schneider, September 29
  • 2009 - Food Safety Lawyer’s Wish: Put Me Out of Business, Seattle Times, Maureen O’Hagan, November 23
  • 2009 - WSU Discourse on Food Safety, Courtesy Seattle Lawyer, Kitsap Sun, Tristan Baurick, August 29
  • 2009 - When Food Sickens, He Heads for Courthouse, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Matt McKinney, June 24
  • 2009 - Bill Marler, The Food-Safety Litigator, Culinate, Miriam Wolf, April
  • 2009 - Food Fight:Bill Marler’s Beef (PDF), Washington Law & Politics, David Volk, May
  • 2009 - Candidate for Top FSIS Job talks E. coli Testing, Irradiation, Education, The Meating Place, Ann Bagel Storck, February 6
  • 2009 - Five Minutes with Bill Marler, Well Known Lawyer, Food Safety Activist, CattleNetwork, Chuck Jolley, February 5
  • 2009 - Heath Surveillance the Key to Fresh Produce, The Packer, Tom Karst, February 3
  • 2008 - Seattle Food Contamination Expert in China as Tainted Milk Sickens Thousands of Kids, Seattle Health Examiner, September 23
  • 2008 - E. Coli Lawyer Is Busier Than Ever, Associated Press, February 4
  • 2007 - Legally Speaking: The Food Poisoning Lawyer, The Southeast Texas Record, John G. Browning, November 20
  • 2007 - The Nation’s Leading Food-borne Illness Attorney Tells All, Washington State Magazine, Hannelore Sudermann, August
  • 2007 - Back to Court: Burst of E. coli Cases Returns Jack in the Box Litigator to the Scene, Meat and Poultry News, Steve Bjerklie, June 8
  • 2007 - Food Fight, Portland Oregonian, Alex Pulaski, March
  • 2007 - Mr. Food Illness Esquire, QSR Magazine, Fred Minnick, February
  • 2006 - Seattle Attorney Dominates Food-Borne Illness Litigation, KPLU, October 20
  • 2006 - How a Tiny Law Firm Made Hay Out of Tainted Spinach, The Wall Street Journal, Heather Won Tesoriero and Peter Lattman, September 27
  • 2005 - Bill Marler - Education Holds Key in Tainted Food Fight, King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin, Ross Anderson, November
  • 2001 - THE INSIDE STORY: How 11 Schoolkids Got $4.75 Million in E. coli Lawsuit, MeatingPlace.com, Bryan Salvage, March 7
  • 2001 - Hammer Time: Preparation Pays When Disputes Escalate to Lawsuits, Meat & Poultry Magazine, David Hendee
  • 2001 - For Seattle Attorney, A Bacterium Brings Riches—and Enemies, The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Zimmerman
  • 2001 - The Bug That Ate The Burger, Los Angeles Times, Emily Green, June
  • 1999 - Courting Publicity, Attorney Makes Safe Food His Business, Seattle Post, Maggie Leung, September 7