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.


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.


1987 –  J.D. Seattle University School of Law

1982 –  B.A.s Political Science, Economics, English, Washington State University


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


2011 – Separating the Chaff From the Wheat: The Reality of Proving a Foodborne Illness Case. White Paper

2010 – Laywers, Microbiologists, and Safe Food

Microbiologist Magazine, Vol 11, No 2

2009 – Legal Issues for Food Safety:  What Every Food Professional Should Know

Food Safety and Quality Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 3

2009 – Serving Up Trouble

American Association of Justice Trial Magazine, Vol 45, No 2

2007 –  Food Safety and the CEO:(PDF) Keys to Bottom Line Success

Food Safety Magazine

2005 –  Food Claims and Litigation (PDF)

Food Safety In-sight Newsletter by Environ Health Associates, Inc

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

2004 –  How to Document a Food Poisoning Case

(co-authored with David Babcock) Trial Magazine


2015 – Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler, By Naomi Tomky

2015 – The New Yorker – A Bug in the System

The New Yorker, Wil S. Hylton

2014 – Q&A: Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler on What Not to Eat

The National Law Journal, Interview with Jenna Greene

2012 – Bill Marler, Attorney, Blogger, and Food Safety Advocate, Talks Turkey (Or Spinach, Rather)

Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes

2012 – Bill Marler Interview, Part Two: His Most Difficult Cases and Lobbying Congress

Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes

2012 – Profiles in Public Health Law: Interview with William “Bill” Marler CDC Public Health Law News

2012 – Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler On Sprouts, Raw Milk, and Why “Local” Isn’t Always Safer Blisstree.com, Hanna Brooks Olsen

2011 – Listeria outbreak draws Seattle lawyer to battle

Associated Press, Shannon Dininny

2011 – Food-Borne Illness Attorney: Top Foods to Avoid

ABC News, Neal Karlinsky

2011 – How to Keep Food Free of Salmonella: Lawsuits

The Atlantic, Barry Estabrook

2011 – More Stomach-Churning Facts about the E. Coli Outbreak

New York Times, Mark Bittman

2011 – Bill Marler: A Personal Injury Attorney and More

The Xemplar, Nicole Black

2011 – Good Food Hero: Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney

Good Food World, Gail Nickel-Kailing

2011- Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat.

Inspire Books, Jeff Benedict

2011 – New Book Chronicles Islander Marler’s Work.

Bainbride Island Review, Connie Mears

2010 – Food Safety Lawyer Puts His Money Where Your Mouth Is

AOL News, Andrew Schneider

2009 – Food Safety Lawyer’s Wish: Put Me Out of Business

Seattle Times, Maureen O’Hagan

2009 – WSU Discourse on Food Safety, Courtesy Seattle Lawyer

Kitsap Sun, Tristan Baurick

2009 – When Food Sickens, He Heads for Courthouse

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Matt McKinney

2009 –  Bill Marler, The Food-Safety Litigator

Culinate, Miriam Wolf

2009 – Food Fight:Bill Marler’s Beef (PDF)

Washington Law & Politics, David Volk

2009 – Candidate for Top FSIS Job talks E. coli Testing, Irradiation, Education

The Meating Place, Ann Bagel Storck

2009 – Five Minutes with Bill Marler, Well Known Lawyer, Food Safety Activist

CattleNetwork, Chuck Jolley

2009 – Heath Surveillance the Key to Fresh Produce

The Packer, Tom Karst

2008 – Seattle Food Contamination Expert in China as Tainted Milk Sickens Thousands of Kids

Seattle Health Examiner

2008 –  E. Coli Lawyer Is Busier Than Ever

Associated Press

2007 –  Legally Speaking: The Food Poisoning Lawyer

The Southeast Texas Record, John G. Browning

2007 –  The Nation’s Leading Food-borne Illness Attorney Tells All

Washington State Magazine, Hannelore Sudermann

2007 –  Back to Court: Burst of E. coli Cases Returns Jack in the Box Litigator to the Scene

Meat and Poultry News, Steve Bjerklie

2007 – Food Fight

Portland Oregonian, Alex Pulaski

2007 –  Mr. Food Illness Esquire

QSR Magazine, Fred Minnick

2006 –  Seattle Attorney Dominates Food-Borne Illness Litigation


2006 –  How a Tiny Law Firm Made Hay Out of Tainted Spinach

The Wall Street Journal, Heather Won Tesoriero and Peter Lattman

2005 – Bill Marler – Education Holds Key in Tainted Food Fight

King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin, Ross Anderson

2001 –  THE INSIDE STORY: How 11 Schoolkids Got $4.75 Million in E. coli Lawsuit

MeatingPlace.com, Bryan Salvage

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

1999 –  Courting Publicity, Attorney Makes Safe Food His Business

Seattle Post, Maggie Leung