In February of 2000, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) announced that an employee at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Spokane, Washington, had been diagnosed with a hepatitis A infection. SRHD encouraged all people who had eaten foods purchased from the Carl’s Jr. restaurant to receive Immune globulin (Ig) shots to prevent becoming ill with hepatitis A. Over 1,300 Ig shots were administered to Spokane-area residents who had eaten at the restaurant within two weeks of the date of the announcement; however, patrons who had eaten at the Carl’s Jr. restaurant more than two weeks before the announcement were not eligible to receive preventive treatment and several people became ill with hepatitis A.
During its investigation into the hepatitis A outbreak, SRHD discovered that the Carl’s Jr. employee who had been diagnosed with hepatitis A was a food handler who prepared vegetable garnishes, including onions, tomatoes, and lettuce – all foods that are consumed without being first cooked. As a result, several people who ate food with garnishes developed hepatitis A infections.
Marler Clark filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all people who became ill with hepatitis A or received Ig shots as a result of exposure to the hepatitis A virus at Carl’s Jr. The firm reached settlements between $25,000 and $75,000 for the families of those who became ill, and recovered $200 for individuals who joined the class action, but who had received Immune globulin injections and did not become ill with hepatitis A.