Ten Thousand People May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis A at Milan Restaurant

A class action lawsuit was filed today in the Circuit Court of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Rock Island County against McDonald’s Inc., and Kevin Murphy, the owner of the McDonald’s restaurant at 400 West First Street in Milan, Illinois. Marler Clark, the Seattle-based foodborne illness law firm, and the Illinois firm of Foote, Meyers, Mielke & Flowers LLC, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the named plaintiff, Cody Patterson, and all others who were forced to receive Immune globulin (IG) shots after being exposed to the hepatitis A virus (HAV) at the Milan McDonald’s.

An estimated 10,000 people were exposed to Hepatitis A at the Milan McDonald’s. If a person exposed to HAV can get a shot of IG within 14 days of exposure, they can avoid getting sick.

“This lawsuit is on behalf of the thousands of people who have to get IG shots because of exposure to Hepatitis A at McDonald’s,” said William Marler, attorney on behalf of the plaintiffs. “These consumers chose McDonald’s in part because of the convenience, and now they have to wait hours in line or pay for a shot, and very likely miss work in order to do either one. Filing a class action suit on their behalf is a way to compensate them for the time, wage loss, and expense.”

“Our experience in handling large Hepatitis A exposures has allowed us to develop a system for helping as many people as possible recover for injuries sustained without the process being too taxing on individuals or the legal system,” continued Marler. “We filed a class action on behalf of the exposed who are able to avoid infection, and then help individuals who fall ill on a case by case basis.”

In 2007, Marler Clark represented members of a class action arising out of a hepatitis A outbreak at a Houlihan’s in Southern Illinois, where 3000 people received IG shots. Marler Clark represented 9000 people who received shots after a 2003 outbreak at a Pennsylvania Chi-Chi’s along with nearly 100 who became ill with HAV. The case of one individual resolved for $6,250,000. The firm also represented the state of Pennsylvania in recovering the cost of the investigation of the outbreak.

Marler Clark represented customers of Boston-area Quizno’s and Friendly’s Restaurant, both of which had HAV outbreaks in 2004. Additional HAV class action suits handled by Marler Clark include over 1,500 people who received shots after an HAV outbreak at D’Angeleo’s Deli in Massachusetts (2001) and 1,400 people after exposure at a Carl’s Jr. in Spokane, Washington (2000). Marler Clark has represented many victims who were unable to avoid infection and fell ill with HAV including suits against McDonald’s, Subway and Taco Bell. The most recent group of cases involved those sickened at a San Diego-area Chipotle Grill in 2008.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. The hepatitis A virus is commonly spread through the fecal-oral route, and symptoms include nausea, abdominal 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 several weeks. Preventative treatment (the IG shot) is only effective when administered within 14 days of exposure to the virus, after 14 days there is no treatment.

ABOUT MARLER CLARK: William Marler has been a major force in food safety policy in the United States and abroad. His food safety blog, Marler Blog, is read by over 1,000,000 people around the world every year. He and his partners at Marler Clark have represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused serious injury and death. His advocacy for better food regulation has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including recent testimony to US Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce. In 1998, Mr. Marler formed the not for profit, Outbreak Inc. He spends much of the year speaking on how to prevent foodborne illnesses.