Outbreak: Chi-Chi's should have seen it coming and heeded warning signs, attorney says

PITTSBURGH — Seattle attorney William Marler today responded to the FDA announcement that green onions were the source of the hepatitis-A outbreak linked to the Beaver Valley Mall Chi-Chi’s restaurant, saying Chi-Chi’s should have been more vigilant in its food safety efforts. The FDA announcement came after health officials determined that green onions served at Chi-Chi’s were contaminated with the same strain of hepatitis-A that was linked to green onions served at restaurants in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina in mid-August.

Marler Clark represents victims of the earlier outbreak and over 50 victims of the outbreak linked to the Beaver Valley Mall Chi-Chi’s.

“Given the fact that there was a huge hepatitis-A outbreak linked to green onions – an ingredient used in nearly every dish served by Chi-Chi’s – just a few months ago, Chi-Chi’s should have been aware that it needed to take extra precautions when selecting suppliers of green onions,” said Marler.

“I present to restaurant groups around the country, telling them that ignorance is no excuse when your product is traced as the source of an outbreak. The law presumes you know what you should have known – if you had bothered to look,” Marler continued. “The signs were there for any responsible restaurant operator. Chi Chi’s should have taken a look around and said, ‘Hey. O’Charley’s just paid the Knox County Health Department $80,000 for costs associated with an outbreak. We don’t want to do that.’”

Marler has called on Chi-Chi’s twice to repay the costs of the outbreak investigation and to pay victims’ medical bills and lost wages, and those lost wages of people who stood in line at clinics to receive Immune Globulin serum to prevent infection. “O’Charley’s did it. Pat & Oscar’s paid the medical bills of victims of an E. coli outbreak in California during September and October, and Chili’s paid the medical bills of victims of a Salmonella outbreak in Illinois last spring. It’s the right thing to do, and it goes a long way to restoring confidence in your restaurant.”

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has achieved great success representing hepatitis-A victims across the country. The firm obtained a million dollar settlement on behalf of people infected with hepatitis-A after eating contaminated food at two Seattle Subway Sandwich franchises. Marler Clark has also 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.

More about the Chi-Chi's hepatitis A outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site. See also www.About-Hepatitis.com and www.HepatitisLitigation.com.