First Hepatitis A Lawsuit Filed Against Suppliers of Tainted Onions


PITTSBURGH — Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally recognized for successful representation of victims of foodborne illness, and the Pittsburgh firm of Meyers Rosen Louik & Perry, filed suit in Federal District Court today on behalf of liver transplant survivor Richard Miller and his wife, Linda. The lawsuit was filed against the suppliers of Hepatitis A-tainted green onions that have been implicated by both the FDA and CDC as the source of over 605 illnesses and three deaths linked to a Beaver County, Pennsylvania Chi Chi’s restaurant.

The four named defendants are CASTELLINI COMPANY, a Wilder, Kentucky Corporation; NEWSTAR FRESH FOODS, LLC, a Salinas, California Corporation; APIO FRESH, LLC, a Guadalupe, California Corporation; and BOSKOVICH FARMS, INC., an Oxnard, California Corporation. Three previous lawsuits filed by Marler Clark and Meyers, Rosen, Louik & Perry against the Chi Chi’s restaurant where the Hepatitis A outbreak occurred were dismissed without prejudice.

“We have filed suit against those growers and suppliers who had the opportunity to prevent this outbreak before it reached the Chi Chi’s restaurant and the Millers’ lunch,” said attorney William Marler. “Taking this step gives us the best chance of preventing such a disaster in the future.”

Richard and Linda Miller had lunch at the Beaver Valley Mall Chi Chi’s restaurant on October 12, 2003. Both fell ill about two weeks later. Mr. Miller first required medical attention at the Medical Center of Beaver on November 3. He was returned to the Medical Center by ambulance and admitted on November 6, then was transferred to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (UPMC) later that day. At the UPMC, doctors determined that Mr. Miller’s liver was failing due to a severe Hepatitis A infection. His family was told that his life was in danger, and he was placed on the liver transplant list. On November 8, with only hours to live, Mr. Miller received a liver transplant. He is currently hospitalized. Hospital bills to date exceed $500,000.

“Mr. Miller faces an uncertain future. He was only recently released from ICU. He now faces months of rehabilitation and a lifetime of medical complications – all from eating lunch containing these defendants’ tainted onions,” Marler added.

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BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has achieved great success representing Hepatitis A victims and other food illness victims in outbreaks across the country over the last ten years. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million E. coli settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the families whose children developed kidney failure and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice. The firm obtained settlements on behalf of hundreds of people infected with Hepatitis A after eating contaminated food at two Seattle Subway Sandwich franchises, and has represented victims who became ill with Hepatitis A after eating at a Carl's Jr. Restaurant in Spokane, Washington, three restaurants in Northwest Arkansas, a large wedding party in Michigan, which resulted in a death, a Taco Bell outlet in Florida, and at a deli in Massachusetts. The firm also represents victims of the Hepatitis A outbreaks in Georgia,Tennessee, and North Carolina that are also linked to tainted green onions. The partners at Marler Clark speak frequently on issues of safe food and have formed OutBreak, Inc., a non-profit business dedicated to training companies on how to avoid foodborne diseases. The firm is also proud to sponsor the informational web sites www.foodborneillness.com, www.about-ecoli.com, www.about-salmonella.com, www.about-shigella.com, www.about-norwalk.com, www.about-campylobacter.com, www.about-listeria.com and www.about-hepatitis.com.