Class action lawsuit filed in hepatitis A outbreak

A Somerset law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Delops Inc., the owners of D'Angelo's Sandwich Shops, in connection with the outbreak of the hepatitis A virus in Bristol County last month.

The law firm of Sabra & Aspden has filed a civil suit with Frank R. Lucca of Swansea as lead plaintiff in seeking to cover some 1,700 people who had to get immune globulin shots as a result of the hepatitis A virus first linked with a D'Angelo's restaurant in Swansea.

"It seems to fit perfectly with what a class action suit is supposed to do," said Attorney Steven P. Sabra, who filed the action in Bristol County Superior Court yesterday. "The question of law and facts is going to be common to the whole class."

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Lucca is the husband of Kristine Lucca, who came down with hepatitis A after eating food from D'Angelo's. Mr. Lucca and his family had to get the immunization shots as a result.

Mr. Sabra, who also represents seven people who have individually brought suit against D'Angelo's after contracting the virus, said the class action suit involves focus not on those who came down with the virus but those who ended up getting immunization shots as a precaution.

The suit will seek damages for any lost wages, medical and medical related expenses, travel and travel related expenses, emotional distress, fear of harm and humiliation, and all other ordinary, incidental and consequential damages that might arise.

Spokesmen for D'Angelo's headquarters in Dedham did not return telephone calls from The Standard-Times yesterday.

Sabra & Aspden is joining with William Marler, a Seattle attorney known nationally for advocacy on behalf of food-borne illness victims, in bringing the class action.

The hepatitis A outbreak began on Nov. 20 when the first patient suffering from hepatitis A was admitted to Charlton Memorial Hospital.

By Dec. 4, the number of confirmed cases in Southeastern Massachusetts had risen to 48, according to the suit, and at least 20 of those had eaten food from D'Angelo's. The suit also says two of those who had eaten at D'Angelo's and subsequently came down with the virus were food handlers at Rudy's Country Store in Swansea, another food store subsequently linked to the hepatitis A outbreak.

The state Department of Public Health organized an immunization clinic when cases began to show a connection to Rudy's.

Mr. Sabra said the suit names only D'Angelo's as a defendant because it appears to be the source of the original outbreak.

"It seems like the only connection Rudy's had with it is that two of their employees ate at D'Angelo's,' said Mr. Sabra. "So it kind of goes back to the source."

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