Class Action Lawsuit to be Filed against Houlihan’s Friday


CHICAGO, IL — A class action lawsuit will be filed tomorrow against Houlihan’s, the Geneva, Illinois, restaurant where a food worker was diagnosed with hepatitis A. The lawsuit will be filed in Kane County Circuit Court on behalf of named plaintiff Rebecca Johnson, a Genoa, Illinois, resident who dined at Houlihan’s with her family on January 19, 2007, and all other persons who were exposed to the hepatitis A virus at Houlihan’s between January 8 and January 19, and were forced to receive Immune Globulin shots to prevent becoming ill with hepatitis A. The lawsuit will be brought by Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm that has represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, and James P. Crawley, a respected Chicago attorney.

According to health officials, at least 3,000 people ate at the Houlihan’s restaurant located at 1332 Commons Drive in Geneva between January 8 and January 19, when the infected individual was working. The Kane County Health Department inoculated 2,060 individuals against hepatitis A on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, and stressed that those patrons who had consumed iced beverages were most at risk for infection.

“Filing a class action makes sense in that people who received shots had similar injuries,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. According to the lawsuit, class members will seek damages including lost wages, medical and travel expenses, and emotional distress related to the fear of becoming infected with the hepatitis A virus.

“We have represented thousands of people in hepatitis A litigation against restaurants, and have found that by consolidating all legal claims into one class, the Court’s resources are not over-burdened, and victims tend to receive compensation faster than if we had pursued individual claims on their behalf,” Marler added, noting that Marler Clark had already been contacted by several individuals who intended to pursue claims against Houlihan’s.

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented members of class action lawsuits arising out of hepatitis A exposures linked to two Seattle Subway stores in 1999, a Spokane Carl’s Jr. restaurant in 2000, a Massachusetts deli in 2001, a Pennsylvania Chi-Chi-s restaurant in 2003, and Massachusetts Friendly’s and Quizno’s restaurants in 2004. In addition, Marler Clark has litigated high-profile food poisoning cases, including those that were linked to September’s spinach E. coli outbreak and the more recent E. coli outbreaks traced to lettuce served at Taco Bell and Taco John’s restaurants in the Northeast and Midwest, respectively. Marler Clark represented 51 victims of a Salmonella outbreak at a Chili’s restaurant in Vernon Hills, Illinois, in 2003, and Marler Clark and James Crawley together represented 35 children and teachers who became ill with ammonia poisoning after eating contaminated chicken tenders in school lunch at Laraway Elementary School in Joliet, Illinois, in 2002.

More about the Houlihan's hepatitis A exposure can be found in the Case News area of this site.