Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, and Underberg & Kessler filed a class action lawsuit today against Alta Restaurant.  The lawsuit was filed in New York County Superior Court on behalf of named plaintiff Michael Piacente and other restaurant patrons who received hepatitis A vaccinations after alleged exposure to the hepatitis A virus at Alta Restaurant between March 23 and April 2, 2013.

On April 5, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advised Alta Restaurant patrons who had eaten dessert purchased from the restaurant between March 23 and April 2, 2013 to seek vaccination against hepatitis A, a communicable disease that is often transmitted through food-contamination.  According to multiple news reports, a pastry chef who works at the restaurant had recently returned from Mexico and contracted the virus.  Because symptoms of infection do not appear for roughly 2 weeks after exposure, the Alta Restaurant worker prepared food while infectious, but before exhibiting symptoms illness, which include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and fatigue.

The Health Department encouraged Alta Restaurant customers to contact a healthcare provider for vaccination or to visit one of three vaccination clinics the public health agency offered.  According to the complaint, Michael Piacente obtained the appropriate vaccination against hepatitis A from his private physician.  He also had blood drawn so a sample could be tested for hepatitis A.

“I’ve seen this situation play out time and again,” said William Marler, attorney for the plaintiffs.  “If restaurants would require workers to be vaccinated—or better yet, pay for vaccinations—they could go a long way toward preventing these public health scares and the loss of business that naturally goes with them.”

BACKGROUND:  Marler Clark has represented hundreds of people who contracted hepatitis A after eating contaminated food.  The law firm has represented thousands who received hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin injections to prevent infection.