Class action lawsuit filed over hepatitis A outbreak

There’s now a class action lawsuit over the hepatitis A outbreak that’s sickened more than 200 people.

The Honolulu law firm Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher partnering with foodborne illness attorney Bill Marler to file the lawsuit against Genki Sushi, Koha Foods and Sea Port Products.

Marler says at least two people have suffered liver failure because of the disease, and one is waiting for a transplant.

“Liver failure, whether it’s mild or severe, is a very painful, all-consuming infection,” he said, “which is rare in hepatitis A cases, but these were otherwise healthy women in their 60s.”

A website has been set up for potential class members to register for more information about pursuing a legal claim relating to the recent hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii. The public can also email questions to hepaclassaction@starnlaw.com.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of anyone who ate or drank at Genki Sushi restaurants from April through August 2016 and:

  • Obtained a hepatitis A vaccination or an immune globulin (IG) shot since April 2016 as a result of the outbreak, or
  • Became ill with the hepatitis A virus since April 2016 as a result of the outbreak.

The complaint was filed Tuesday in the First Circuit Court, following the Hawaii Department of Health findings that the hepatitis A infections were attributed to the consumption of contaminated scallops served raw at certain Genki Sushi restaurants.

The scallops were imported to the United States from the Philippines by Sea Port Products and distributed to Genki Sushi by Koha Foods.

The lawsuit alleges that all food and drink sold at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai during the exposure period were unsafe as a result of the contaminated scallops and potentially exposed thousands of people to the virus.

“This is quickly becoming one of the largest hepatitis A outbreaks in U.S. history. Not only are there over 200 illnesses in Hawaii, we are beginning to see cases on the mainland as well. Given the number of people that consumed scallops at Genki Sushi and became ill and worked at other restaurants on the islands, we estimate that over 10,000 people needed to be vaccinated to prevent an even larger disaster,” said Marler.

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