Soleil Produce Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits - California (2005)

In early November of 2005, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LACDHS) officials learned that 6 cast and crew members from the movie set, “The Good German,” were confirmed ill with acute hepatitis A infection. Preliminary interviews revealed that the only day that all 6 ill individuals had eaten food on the set was October 3. Interviews revealed that, on October 3, all 6 cases had eaten food provided by two foodservice providers, Silver Grill Location Catering Inc. (Silver Grill) and Jeff Winn, craft service for the movie. Twelve more cast and crew members from the movie were ultimately confirmed to be infected with hepatitis A, and all had eaten on location on October 3.

LACDHS launched a case-control study of movie workers to identify risk factors for HAV infection and determine if all had become ill from the same source. A case-patient was defined as a person who had eaten food provided on the set of The Good German on October 3 and later experienced symptoms of acute hepatitis and tested positive for hepatitis A infection. Controls had eaten on the set on the same day and had not had clinical symptoms, a past diagnosis or vaccination for hepatitis A, or a recent history of receiving immune globulin.

A total of 116 Good German cast and crew who were on set on October 3 were interviewed; 18 individuals met the case definition, one person was hospitalized. No common exposures other than eating on the set of the Good German were identified.

Data analysis showed that case-patients were more likely to have eaten baby mixed green lettuce or jerk chicken than their non-ill counterparts. LACDHS determined that since all Silver Grill Catering food-handlers tested negative for acute hepatitis A, contamination by an ill food handler did not occur and they ruled out the jerk chicken as the potential source of illness. Investigators concluded that lettuce was the likely source of the outbreak.

LACDHS Environmental Health staff and the California Department of Health Services’ Food and Drug Branch conducted a traceback and identified the distributor of produce to Silver Grill Catering as Soleil Produce, a Los Angeles distributor.

On January 6, 2006, LACDHS issued an outbreak investigation report of the Hepatitis A outbreak that occurred among members of the set of The Good German. Citing statistical evidence and known likelihood of produce contamination with HAV, investigators concluded that the salad provided by Silver Grill Catering most likely caused at least eighteen confirmed cases of hepatitis A virus infection among Good German cast and crew.

Marler Clark represented 6 people in claims against Silver Grill Location Catering and Soleil Produce. Five of the cases were resolved in late 2006; one additional case was resolved in early 2007.

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