Grants Pass restaurant sued over Norovirus outbreak


GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A lawsuit was filed today against Si Casa Flores, the Grants Pass restaurant linked to a Norovirus outbreak during the first week of January, 2005. The lawsuit was filed by Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its representation of victims of foodborne illness, on behalf of two Grants Pass men. The complaint was filed in Josephine County Circuit Court.

Plaintiffs in the case, Don and Joseph Penasso, are both residents of Grants Pass. They ate at Si Casa Flores on January 5, and became ill with symptoms of Norovirus (formerly called Norwalk or Norwalk-like Virus) on January 7. According to the complaint, Don Penasso suffers from an immune system disorder, and continues to suffer from the effects of his Norovirus infection. Joseph Penasso has been unable to regain weight he lost during his illness.

“Norovirus typically causes a relatively short-lived albeit intense illness in healthy adults,” said David Babcock, attorney for the Penassos. “But when an immunocompromised person is exposed to the virus, they have a harder time fighting it off, and can suffer a longer, more violent illness.”

The Oregon Department of Human Services reported that at least 32 people became ill with Norovirus after contaminated food at Si Casa Flores from January 6-8.

“It is unfortunate that this outbreak occurred, but food safety procedures should have been in place to prevent Norovirus from spreading in the first place,” Babcock continued.

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ABOUT MARLER CLARK: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. The firm has represented thousands of food poisoning victims since 1993, when William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million E. coli settlement with Jack in the Box. The firm represented most of the seriously injured victims of the Odwalla apple juice E. coli outbreak of 1998, the Sun Orchard Salmonella outbreak of 1999, the Sizzler E. coli outbreak of 2000, the Wendy’s E. coli outbreak of 2001, and the ConAgra E. coli outbreak of 2002. Marler Clark recently resolved the claims of over 50 victims of the Chili’s Salmonella outbreak in Vernon Hills, Illinois, and is presently involved in Chi Chi’s hepatitis A and Sheetz Salmonella litigation.

See the firm-sponsored site about Norovirus and the Norovirus Blog, which is continuously updated with news on Norovirus outbreaks across the nation.

More about the Sheetz Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.