More Lawsuits Filed After Hepatitis Outbreak At Local Restaurant

A third hepatitis A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., in San Diego County Superior Court, authorities said.

The complaint was filed on behalf of two Santee residents, husband and wife Nick Sowter and Shannon Jacobs.

Both were infected with hepatitis A after eating food from the Chipotle Grill in La Mesa, California, in March and April 2008, according to their attorneys.

The couple is represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm dedicated to representing victims of food borne illness, and Keeney, Waite, & Stevens, a San Diego area firm, a news release said.

The lawsuit states Sowter developed symptoms of hepatitis A on April 7, 2008 and, as a result, was hospitalized from April 11-14, where his blood tested positive for hepatitis A, attorneys said.

JacobsÂ’ symptoms began on April 8, and she sought medical treatment on April 11. During treatment, her blood tested positive for hepatitis A, her attorneys said.

In April, San Diego County health officials announced that a number of HAV infections had been traced to the restaurant, located at 8005 Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa.

Officials advised customers who had eaten at the restaurant between March 1 and April 22 that they might be at risk for infection.

Twenty-two people have tested positive for Hepatitis A infection in connection with the outbreak.

Hepatitis A is a food borne virus that can be passed by infected food handlers to consumers. The virus attacks the liver, and symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, dark urine, fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, loss of appetite, and jaundice.

In extreme cases, liver failure can result. The virus has a long incubation period, and symptoms may not appear for fifteen to fifty days.

San Diego health officials urge anyone who ate at the Chipotle Grill during the infection window (3/1/08 - 4/22/08) to get tested for Hepatitis A.

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