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Outbreak News

A local woman has filed suit against D'Angelo Sandwich Shops Inc

FALL RIVER -- A local woman has filed suit against D'Angelo Sandwich Shops Inc. after contracting hepatitis A from eating at its Route 6, Swansea location.

Rosemary Lamarre of Fall River -- one of more than 30 people sickened during the recent hepatitis outbreak -- made the complaint against D'Angelo after becoming "violently ill" in late November. Her husband, Robert, is also listed as a plaintiff.

The Somerset law firm of Sabra & Aspden will be working on the Lamarres' behalf with co-counselor William Marler, a Seattle lawyer with expertise in representing victims of food-borne illnesses.

The suit was filed in Bristol County Superior Court against D'Angelo Monday.

According to attorney Steven P. Sabra, the D'Angelo corporate office in Dedham had not yet been officially served.

A D'Angelo spokesman did not immediately return a call to The Herald News Monday afternoon.

Lamarre will be suing for medical expenses and related pain and suffering. They are not seeking a concrete amount of damage reparations.

"It's up to us to prove what the damages would be," Sabra said.

Damages include loss of enjoyment of life, medical and related expenses, economic and wage loss, travel and travel-related expenses, anxiety and emotional distress, pharmaceutical expenses and loss of consortium.

The complaint states that Mr. Lamarre, as the spouse of the person infected, also sustained economic losses, disruption of his life and injury to his spousal relationship.

In similar cases that Marler tried against another sandwich shop chain, plaintiffs have received more than $1 million.

According to Sabra, Lamarre ate at D'Angelo several times during October. On Nov. 13, she became very ill.

"She suffered extreme abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, fatigue and pain," Sabra said. "Her vomiting was continuous. She couldn't hold down any fluids, not even water.

"She was sick for a good 11 days," he added. "Plus, she's still not over this completely."

Lamarre, a stay-at-home mother, sought medical care on several occasions beginning on Nov. 14, including treatment at Charlton Memorial Hospital.

Around Nov. 20, Charlton reported the case of hepatitis A to the local Board of Health. By Nov. 27, there were 39 confirmed cases reported.

Lamarre's husband and their two children, Jake, 4, and Morgan, 18 months, were required to take immune globulin shots to prevent infection.

"The family's experience was especially traumatic given the age of the children," Sabra wrote in his complaint. "And also because Ms. Lamarre was effectively precluded from engaging in any Thanksgiving Day festivities."

Marler said he believes restaurants need to take greater precautions to insure the health of their customers and employees.

"In the last year, hepatitis A exposures were linked to restaurants in Seattle, Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, Arkansas, Texas and California," Marler said in a press release. "Several hundred have become ill. At least two have died, and thousands have received gamma globulin shots.

"It is time that all restaurants be required to provide vaccinations to all their employees," Marler continued. "The cost is small, only $50."

Hepatitis A is a virus which is most often transmitted when a person ingests something tainted by the feces of someone infected with the disease. It can also be spread by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-polluted waters.

Symptoms include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, dark urine and pale bowel movements. Those who contract the virus have to suffer through the symptoms for a week or two before feeling better.

Hundreds of locals flooded a free immunization clinic at Charlton Memorial Hospital on Thursday.

In Sabra's opinion, Lamarre has a good chance of winning her case.

"I think she does. It's pretty clear that her injuries were not her fault," Sabra said. "Had D'Angelo's had a policy of providing vaccinations, sending sick employees home or monitoring hand-washing, this outbreak would not have happened."

Sabra said that if the case goes to trial, it would not be heard for approximately a year.

More on this outbreak: D'Angelo's Hepatitis A Outbreak

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