Lawsuit Filed in LA-Area Hepatitis A Outbreak Case

LOS ANGELES, CA – The first of what may be multiple lawsuits resulting from recent Los Angeles-area hepatitis A outbreaks was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Michael Gallagher of Victorville, CA, names Silver Grill Location Catering as the defendant. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Gallagher contracted hepatitis A after consuming contaminated food manufactured and sold by Silver Grill. Mr. Gallagher is represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm that has successfully represented thousands of victims of foodborne illness, and Ralph Martinez, a respected Los Angeles attorney.

The lawsuit alleges that Silver Grill Location Catering served the tainted meal that sickened Mr. Gallagher on October 3, 2005, during production of “The Good German,” a film starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. At least eighteen other people on the movie set also became ill with hepatitis A infections after eating the contaminated food. Local health authorities believe the contaminated food to have been lettuce. The lawsuit seeks damages to account for Mr. Gallagher’s medical and medical-related expenses, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. The suit also seeks compensation for the lost wages that Mr. Gallagher incurred during his illness.

“Foodservice establishments, including caterers, should be aware of the risks of serving fresh produce to consumers, and should take steps to ensure that their suppliers are providing them with unadulterated product,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. “A look at recent history will tell you that this is not an isolated event.”

California health officials identified three outbreaks of hepatitis A linked to consumption of contaminated lettuce in the last four months of 2005. In September 2005, residents of Minnesota, Oregon, and Wisconsin became ill with E. coli O157:H7 after eating Dole brand lettuce. At least twenty-eight Oregon and Washington residents fell ill with the deadly bacteria after eating contaminated parsley in September and October 2005.

“I’ve represented hundreds of victims of produce-related outbreaks in the last five years,” Marler continued. “Until purchasers of fresh produce wake up and start demanding a product free from pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and producers comply, we will continue to see outbreaks – and lawsuits,” added Marler.

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented hundreds of victims of hepatitis A outbreaks across the country. The firm recently settled the claims of 78 individuals who became ill with hepatitis A after eating contaminated green onions at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant in Pennsylvania, and is currently litigating a case on behalf of the estate of a man who died after contracting hepatitis A at the Maple Lawn Dairy in Elmira, New York. Marler Clark has also represented victims of notable hepatitis A outbreaks traced to two Seattle Subway Sandwich franchises, a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Spokane, Washington, three restaurants in Northwest Arkansas, a wedding party in Michigan, a Taco Bell outlet in Florida, and at a deli in Massachusetts. See also the Marler Clark-sponsored sites about hepatitis litigation and about hepatitis A.

More about the Soleil Produce lettuce hepatitis A outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.