Subway Franchise Faces Claims from Over Thirty-One Hepatitis A Victims

SEATTLE, WA - A Class Action Lawsuit was filed today in King County Superior Court against the two Subway sandwich shops implicated in the recent Hepatitis A outbreak. The named plaintiff is Anita Schuerhoff. Ms. Schueroff ate a sandwich purchased at the Subway located at 18002 15th NE in Shoreline on September 19, 1999. On October 15, she began to feel weak and dizzy. She also suffered severe nausea. She had had numerous visits to the doctors and repeated lab test. She had been unable to work for several weeks. Because she has been exposed to this virus, she is no longer able to give blood or donate an organ.

According to the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health thirty-one Washington residents have reported contracting the Hepatitis A virus since October 15, 1999. The majority of the individuals who have contracted the virus live or work in Northeast Seattle or East Shoreline. An investigation by the Health Department has determined the likely sources of the outbreak to be two North Seattle Subway sandwich shops. (See release from the Seattle-King Co. Department of Public Health.) “Unfortunately, the number of victims is likely to rise because the incubation period can be several weeks and there is a substantial risk of person-to-person exposure,” said William Marler, a partner at the Seattle law firm of Marler Clark.

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. In young children these symptoms can appear flu-like, but in some cases do not appear at all. Symptoms most often begin two to six weeks after exposure and can last up to two weeks. Preventative treatment is only effective when administered within 14 days of exposure to the virus. After 14 days there is no treatment. However, Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination prior to exposure

The CDC reports that about 22,700 cases of Hepatitis A occur in the United States annually. Contamination of foods by infected workers in food processing and restaurants is a common source of outbreaks. Prevention is best done through washing hands with soap and warm running water after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food

Marler Clark has been involved in hundreds of cases involving foodborne bacteria. These have included the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak; the 1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak; the 1998 Malt-O-Meal Salmonella outbreak; the 1998 Finley School District E. coli outbreak in the Tri-cities, Washington; and the 1999 Golden Corral E. coli outbreak in Kearney, Nebraska.

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