A class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday against McDonalds after thousands of patrons at a restaurant in northwestern Illinois were exposed to hepatitis A. The complaint alleges that management knew at least one employee was infected with hepatitis A and failed to take steps to prevent patrons from becoming infected.
The Hepatitis exposure lawsuit was filed on behalf of Cody Patterson, and all customers who ate at the McDonald’s on 400 W. 1st Street in Milan, Ill. and received preventative treatment for the virus as recommended by local health officials.
Nearly 20 people in the area have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, with 11 of them have requiring hospitalization. It has been confirmed that at least two employees at the Milan McDonald’s were continuing to work at the restaurant while infected, and management allegedly knew about the condition several weeks before the Rock Island County health department temporarily shut the restaurant down last week.
Vaccinations for hepatitis A were rushed into the area for an estimated 10,000 residents who may have been exposed to the infection after visiting the McDonalds. At least 2,000 people have already received vaccination shots.
Hepatitis A is a potentially serious virus that causes swelling of the liver, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. It can take as long as 20 days before symptoms appear after exposure. Getting a vaccination between the exposure and the appearance of the symptoms can help avoid a full-blown infection.
The McDonald’s class action lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Rock Island County, naming McDonald’s and Kevin Murphy, the owner of the Milan franchise, as defendants. The case seeks compensation for those who had to receive preventative treatment as a result of the hepatitis A exposure. The lead plaintiff, Cody Patterson, alleges that he ate at the McDonald’s several times with his family during the period of time that infected workers may have contaminated food and beverages served.
While Murphy says his restaurant was not informed of the illnesses until July 13, health inspection reports indicate that the county health department knew in June, and one of the employees has stated publicly that she informed the restaurant that she had contracted hepatitis A in late June.
The Rock Island County Board has requested a sheriff’s department investigation into the matter, to determine why knowledge of the sick employees was not given to the proper departments, which would have allowed the county to act sooner. The Rock Island Health Department says its policy is to notify the restaurant within 24 hours of an infection diagnosis.