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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis


Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher, a Honolulu law firm in partnership with leading food borne illness lawyer Bill Marler, has filed a class action lawsuit as a result of the Hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii.  The suit names as defendants Genki Sushi, Koha Foods and Sea Port Products as the sources of the contaminated food.

The class of plaintiffs includes all persons who consumed food or drink at Genki Sushi restaurants from April through August 2016, and who for personal and public health and safety reasons obtained a Hepatitis A vaccination or an IG shot.  The complaint was filed on August 23, 2016 in the First Circuit Court, following the Hawaii Department of Health findings that the Hepatitis A infections were attributed to the consumption of contaminated scallops at certain Genki Sushi restaurants.  The scallops were imported to the United States from the Philippines by Sea Port Products and distributed to Genki Sushi by Koha Foods.

The lawsuit alleges that all food and drink sold at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai during the exposure period were unsafe as a result of the contaminated scallops and potentially exposed thousands of people to the virus.

“This is quickly becoming one of the largest Hepatitis A outbreaks in US history.  Not only are there over 200 illnesses in Hawaii, we are beginning to see cases on the mainland as well.  Given the number of people that consumed scallops at Genki Sushi and became ill and worked at other restaurants on the islands, we estimate that over 10,000 people needed to be vaccinated to prevent an even larger disaster,” says Bill Marler.

Trevor Brown commented: “As a premier tourist destination, we want Hawaii to have the highest standards in food safety so our guests feel secure.  We also want our local people to be taken care of.  This suit is a step toward that.”

For more information or to speak to one of the lawyers contact Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher at 808-537-6100 and ask for Judith Pavey or Trevor Brown.

About Starn OToole Marcus & Fisher: Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher is a full service law firm, with significant experience in class action and personal injury matters.  The firm also has extensive experience in complex litigation, real estate and business transactions.

About Marler Clark:  Marler Clark, located in Seattle Washington,  specializes in representing victims of foodborne illness and has represented thousands of plaintiffs throughout the country.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Hepatitis A Outbreak Hits 17

tropical-smoothie-cafe_1471641149449_5578065_ver1.0Virginia health officials say they have confirmed 17 cases of hepatitis A are linked to frozen strawberries used by Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

The Virginia Department of Health says testing indicates frozen strawberries from Egypt used at the smoothie chain may be to blame for the illnesses.

The 17 hepatitis cases are from across Virginia: five in the eastern region (which includes Hampton Roads), four in the northern region, four in the northwestern region, and four in the central region.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe says it stopped using the strawberries from Egypt at all of its stores, including those outside Virginia, after learning about the potential issue. The smoothie chain says the cafes and their food handling practices “have not been implicated in any way.”

Health officials are encouraging anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant in the last 50 days to watch for symptoms of hepatitis A. Those include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea.

Marler Clark Retained in Tropical Smoothie Cafe Hepatitis A Outbreak

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is investigating a cluster of hepatitis A cases and has identified a potential association with smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants in Virginia. Genetic testing shows the illnesses were caused by a strain of hepatitis A that has been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt. Upon learning of the potential link to strawberries, Tropical Smoothie Cafe immediately conducted a voluntary product withdrawal of all strawberries sourced from Egypt and found an alternate supply.

Individuals who consumed a smoothie from a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia that contained frozen strawberries, on August 5, 6, 7 or 8, 2016, may still benefit from vaccine or immune globulin to prevent hepatitis A. (Vaccine or immune globulin administered within two weeks of exposure to hepatitis A virus is effective at preventing the disease.) If you have had hepatitis A or have been vaccinated for hepatitis A, you are already immune and therefore not at risk for getting the disease. Anyone who consumed a smoothie after the frozen strawberries were removed from restaurants is not thought to be at risk for hepatitis A.

Other restaurants, and firms that supply restaurants, may also have received the frozen strawberries imported from Egypt. VDH continues to investigate cases and work with state and federal partners, including the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to identify additional locations where the product may have been distributed.

Anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant within the last 50 days is encouraged to watch for symptoms of hepatitis A. If illness occurs, seek medical care and take steps to protect others from the infection.

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus.  The classic symptom of hepatitis A is jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or the eyes.  Other symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools. Symptoms develop 15-50 days after exposure to the virus, which can occur through direct contact with another person who has the infection or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus.

Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

It is very important for people who have symptoms of hepatitis A to stay home from work, especially if they work in food service.

Routine vaccination against hepatitis A has reduced the risk of this disease in the past decade.  Vaccination is available to anyone, but specifically recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus.  Hepatitis A vaccine is available from health care providers (including some pharmacies and travel clinics) to protect against this disease.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, wo required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Marler Clark Retained in Sprouts Extraordinaire Salmonella Outbreak

big-map-8-4-16Thirty people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from nine states – Colorado 13, Kansas 8, Minnesota 1, Missouri 1, Nebraska 2, New York 1, Oregon 1, Texas 1 and Wyoming 2.

Of those ill people, 24 were infected with Salmonella Reading, 1 was infected with Salmonella Abony, and 5 were infected with both.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 21, 2016 to July 20, 2016. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 30. Fifty-three percent of ill people are female. Five ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence available at this time indicate that alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver, Colorado are the likely source of this outbreak. Ill people in the current outbreak reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches from several different restaurants.

Federal, state, and local health and regulatory officials performed a traceback investigation from five restaurants where ill people reported eating alfalfa sprouts. This investigation indicated that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five of these locations.

On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire recalled its alfalfa sprout products from the market due to possible Salmonella contamination. These products were sold in 5-pound boxes labeled “Living Alfalfa Sprouts.” CDC recommends that restaurants and other retailers do not sell or serve and consumers do not eat recalled alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire.