Hepatitis A From Hawaiian Sushi Spread to Many More Flights

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By Steven M. Sellers

Sept. 30 — An ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A that started with imported sushi in Hawaii now extends to 51 places where food was served, including 37 Hawaiian Airlines flights, according to documents filed in Hawaii Circuit Court ( Ramos v. Genki Sushi USA, Inc. , Haw. Cir. Ct., No. 16-1-1702-09, amended complaint filed 9/27/16 ).

D’Ann Ramos, the lead plaintiff in a would-be class action over the outbreak, alleges the virus has been spread to and by food workers in a variety of Oahu eateries including Baskin-Robbins, Chili’s, Costco, Papa John’s, Taco Bell and a Chart House restaurant in Honolulu.

The list also includes an elementary school, according to the amended complaint filed Sept. 27.

The Hawaiian Airlines flights on which infected flight attendants worked include routes between Hawaii and Oakland, Calif., Las Vegas, Seattle and Sydney, Australia from July 10 to Aug. 12, the complaint said.

In a notice on its website, Hawaiian Airlines confirms possible exposures on 37 of its flights, and that two of its employees tested positive for the virus.

“While the risk of transmission is extremely low, we are taking necessary precautions for the health of our customers and our employees,” the notice said.

The outbreak has infected 282 people so far, 71 of whom required hospitalization, according to figures updated Sept. 28 by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Genki Sushi USA Restaurants Inc., Koha Foods and Sea Port Products are named as defendants in the action.

The original source of the contamination was bay scallops, imported from the Philippines by Sea Port, which were distributed by Koha and served by Genki Sushi at its Oahu restaurants, Ramos alleges.

She seeks compensation for people with secondary exposure to the virus who, like her, obtained a vaccination to prevent its development.

Ramos claims employees at the food outlets and Hawaiian Airlines ate adulterated food at Genki Sushi during the exposure period from April to August 2016, and then potentially spread the virus while preparing food at their workplaces.

The case is one of three filed over the outbreak so far, including another class action ( 44 PSLR 981, 9/19/16 ).

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease usually transmitted by ingestion of even microscopic amounts of fecal matter, by contact with an infected person or consumption of contaminated objects, food or drinks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The law offices of Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher as well as Marler Clark represent D’Ann Ramos and other plaintiffs in the case.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers at sSellers@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

For More Information

The complaint is available at: http://src.bna.com/i25

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