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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Class-action notices to be mailed in Chi-Chi’s outbreak

As the Associated Press reported yesterday, more than 9,000 people who received shots to ward off hepatitis A after an outbreak at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant will be mailed forms later this month so they can claim their share of an $800,000 class-action settlement.
The federal judge overseeing Chi-Chi’s bankruptcy last month approved a schedule to mail the notices by Aug. 24 to the 9,489 people who got immune globulin shots from the Pennsylvania Department of Health after the outbreak was publicized in early November 2003.
More than 600 people were sickened, and four eventually died, from eating tainted green onions served at the Beaver County Chi-Chi’s. Health officials urged shots for family members of people who became ill, as well as those who ate in the restaurant in the weeks leading up to the outbreak.
The settlement doesn’t cover anybody who filed a lawsuit over damages or death. More than 550 people, and all four families of those who died, also filed claims for out-of-pocket medical expenses and/or for more serious damages. All but a handful of those cases – including all four wrongful death suits – have settled for a total of about $40 million.
The $800,000 class-action settlement is separate and meant to compensate those whose damages were limited to the inconvenience of having to get a shot.
That money will be divided equally between everyone who files a claim form postmarked by the Oct. 24 deadline, so the value of the claims depends on how many are made. For example, if 3,000 claims are filed, each will be worth about $266.