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Third suit filed against Milan McDonald’s

Deirdre Cox Baker and Dustin Lemmon

Quad-City Times

August 13, 2009

A third lawsuit stemming from this summer's hepatitis A outbreak was filed today in Rock Island County Circuit Court against the Milan, Ill., McDonald's restaurant and its owner, Kevin Murphy.

The suit was filed on behalf of Karie Fiegel and her 14-year-old daughter, Cayla Matthews, both of whom say they ate at the McDonald's and subsequently were diagnosed with hepatitis A, a contagious disease that typically causes flu-like symptoms. The woman and her daughter are from Kappa, Ill., a small town in Woodford County, near Bloomington-Normal.

This is the third lawsuit filed by Marler Clark, a law firm based in Seattle that specializes in food-borne illness cases. Attorney Craig Mielke of Geneva, Ill., is also involved in the suit.

The same attorneys filed a class-action suit July 21 in Rock Island County Circuit Court on behalf of a Quad-City area man named Cody Patterson and all those who contracted hepatitis A or were exposed to the disease at the Milan restaurant. The second suit was filed July 23 and lists as its plaintiff Dillon Mrasak, 16, of Rock Island County, who alleges he became ill with hepatitis A after eating at the McDonald's.

According to the latest lawsuit, Fiegel and Matthews ate at the McDonald's on June 8. Both tested positive for hepatitis A in July. The disease has an incubation period of 14 to 28 days, but it can affect people for up to 50 days.

Fiegel fell ill July 7 with symptoms that included nausea, vomiting, fever, aches, fatigue and jaundice. Also, her liver enzymes were elevated. She sought medical care, her symptoms intensified and she was admitted to a hospital, where she remained from July 14 to 16. Matthews got sick July 6 and experienced vomiting, fever, aches and fatigue.

"There are 30 confirmed cases of hepatitis A," said William Marler, who is with the Seattle-based firm and one of the family's attorneys. "Given the incubation period for the disease, it's possible that the outbreak is not over."

Murphy and the McDonald's corporation could not immediately be reached for comment by the Quad-City Times. The restaurant was closed July 15-17 and ordered by the Rock Island County Health Department to undergo a deep cleaning during that time.

The 30th case of hepatitis A related to the same outbreak was confirmed Wednesday. Most of the cases involve Quad-City region residents, 16 of them from Rock Island County.

An investigation completed Monday by the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department concluded that Trinity Regional Health System and Metropolitan Medical Laboratory did not report cases of hepatitis A as promptly as required by law to the county health department, where the belated reports were not acted upon immediately because an employee was on vacation.

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