Class action lawsuit in hepatitis case grows

  • 4253774_web1_Sushi_2.jpg

KAILUA-KONA — People who ate at any of 51 locations in Hawaii where employees infected with hepatitis A were working may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit against Genki Sushi, as well as a distributor and importer.

ADVERTISING


KAILUA-KONA — People who ate at any of 51 locations in Hawaii where employees infected with hepatitis A were working may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit against Genki Sushi, as well as a distributor and importer.

The suit covers anyone who received a hepatitis A vaccination after eating at a restaurant during an infected employee’s exposure window, said Trevor A. Brown, a director at Starn, O’Toole, Marcus and Fisher, which filed the suit along with foodborne illness lawyer Bill Marler against Genki Sushi, Koha Foods and Sea Port Products in August.

This week, the complaint was amended to include 51 locations where employees were diagnosed with hepatitis A including one on the Big Island: Sushi Shiono Waikoloa at Queens’ Market Place. Also covered are 10 Hawaiian Airlines flights to or from Kona.

On Wednesday, the Hawaii Department of Health reported 282 people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A. The onset of illness ranges from June 12 to Sept. 19.

Of the cases statewide, just 10 are residents of Kauai, Maui or the Big Island, and five are from the mainland or overseas.

In August, the Department of Health linked the outbreak to scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants in Oahu and Kauai. It also ordered an embargo on frozen scallops distributed by Koha Oriental Foods.

The department later announced that lab tests turned up positive results for hepatitis A in Sea Port Bay scallops. The scallops, according to the DOH, originated in the Philippines and are imported by Sea Port Products Corp.

During the outbreak, several food service employees were diagnosed with hepatitis A, prompting the Department of Health to issue advisories to customers about potentially receiving a vaccination.

In late August, the Honolulu firm announced the filing of the class action lawsuit as a result of the outbreak.

Potential plaintiffs must have received the vaccination after eating at a restaurant during an infected employee’s exposure window, which is when the employee was infectious and varies from location to location, Brown said.

In the case of the Big Island establishment, an employee at the restaurant was diagnosed with hepatitis A after reportedly contracting the illness on Oahu.

The exposure window included in the lawsuit is June 5-8, 11-15 and 18-21.

The Hawaiian Airlines flights include four July 3 flights between Honolulu and Kona, as well as flights from Honolulu to Kona and Kona to Oakland, California, on July 4. Two flights between Honolulu and Kona on July 24 and two more flights from Oakland to Kona and Kona to Oakland on July 26 are also included.

Currently, neither Hawaiian Airlines nor Sushi Shiono are defendants in the lawsuit.

Brown said the suit doesn’t include people who actually contracted hepatitis A.

State law requires cases like that be tried on an individual basis.

It’s unknown how many potential plaintiffs there are in the class, Brown said. They are encouraging potential plaintiffs to fill out forms available at www.hawaiihepatitisclassaction.com.

“We have over 120 people who have filled out forms for the class,” he said.

“We think there might be thousands.”

Potential plaintiffs would need to be able to prove they consumed food at one of the identified restaurants.

Brown said that could be done with a receipt or credit card statement.

ADVERTISING


Individuals must also be able to verify they received a hepatitis A vaccination.

Brown declined to go into detail about the specific damages being sought in the lawsuit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.