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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Friendly’s in lawsuit over hepatitis A scare

Folks who received an inoculation shot after the hepatitis A scare surrounding Arlington’s now-closed Friendly’s last year might be entitled to compensation thanks to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed jointly by Marler Clark and local counsel Sabra and Aspden. The terms of the settlement were approved by the Middlesex Superior Court in February, and if finalized in June, would allow qualifying individuals to receive a lump sum of $200 from Friendly’s. Effected individuals were recently sent notification.
Qualifying individuals are requested to submit claims by May 30 to be included in the settlement class.

As a precaution last June, the Arlington Board of Health hosted a three-day clinic to administer immune globulin shots to the nearly 3,000 people who said they had eaten at the Friendly’s on Broadway (which will soon become an East Cambridge Savings Bank) from June 4 to 15, the time in which they might have been exposed to the disease.
Later that month, lawyers from Marler Clark of Seattle, and Sabra and Aspden of Somerset, filed the class-action suit against Friendly’s on behalf of plaintiff Frederick C. Foster, a Boston resident, and all others who had been potentially exposed to the illness and would have had to receive the immune globulin shots.
Foster said he and others had missed work to get the needed inoculation and should be compensated for lost wages, emotional distress and any other medical-related expenses.
On Feb. 8, the Middlesex County Superior Court approved a proposed settlement between the two parties, determining that anyone who had received an inoculation shot because they had either eaten food from Friendly’s between June 4 and 15, or been exposed to individuals infected with hepatitis A from Friendly’s food, would be entitled to file a claim.
The court required the Board of Health to release the names of all individuals who had received immune globulin shots at any of the three days of the clinic.
The court also ordered that the number of claimants in the suit should not exceed 3,000 and appointed Marler Clark and Sabra and Aspden as counsel to the class.
At a fairness hearing set for June 22, the court will consider all submitted claims and also determine whether to award an attorney fee of $45,000.
Friendly’s has already reimbursed the town $55,000 for the costs of running the clinics, which includes a $40,000 reimbursement for supplies, the hiring of nurses and overtime pay, and $15,000 for the police details. The immune globulin was provided free of charge by the state.
After the hepatitis A scare and the eatery subsequently failed two Board of Health inspections, Friendly’s closed the Broadway location last August.