FRIDAY HARBOR, WA — A lawsuit was filed today against Chimayo, the Eastsound restaurant associated with a Hepatitis A outbreak in the spring of 2000. The lawsuit was filed in San Juan County Superior Court on behalf of George and Emilie Rankin, of Eastsound, who allege that they contracted Hepatitis A infections after eating contaminated food at Chimayo on several occasions in February and March of 2000. The Rankins are represented by Denis Stearns, a partner at Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm nationally known for its representation of foodborne illness victims.
“Contamination of food by infected workers in restaurants is one of the most common sources of outbreaks like this one,” said Denis Stearns, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “The thought is not pleasant, but most Hepatitis A infections are the result of eating or drinking something contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The virus is most commonly spread through contact with human stool. Symptoms include nausea, cramping, fatigue and fever. Symptoms most often begin two to six weeks after exposure, and can last up to two weeks. These can include a lack of energy, diarrhea, fever, nausea, abdominal discomfort and jaundice (yellow color to the whites of the eyes and/or skin, and darkening of urine). Young children may have mild symptoms or none at all, but are still contagious. In adults, the infection usually causes severe illness that can last for several months.
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. The firm represented victims of the King County Subway Mt. Vernon McDonald’s Hepatitis A outbreaks in 1999. Marler Clark currently represents victims of outbreaks related to E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, and Hepatitis in several states. Denis Stearns, one of the partners at Marler Clark, writes and speaks frequently on issues of safe food.