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McDonald's sued over hepatitis A outbreak

Carla K. Johnson

Associated Press

July 23, 2009

An Illinois couple has filed a lawsuit against McDonald's, claiming their son was hospitalized for four days after eating at one of the chain's restaurants in northwestern Illinois.

Dennis and Lisa Mrasak of Sherrard filed the suit Thursday in Rock Island County Circuit Court. Theirs is the first lawsuit filed on behalf of a McDonald's patron sickened in a recent hepatitis A outbreak.

A separate lawsuit was filed Tuesday by a man who got preventive shots after eating at the same McDonald's in Milan. Attorneys are seeking class action status in that case on behalf of people who got preventive shots recommended by health authorities to diners at the restaurant on certain dates.

In the new complaint, the Mrasaks claim their 16-year-old son, Dillon, ate at the Milan McDonald's during a time when one or more food handlers was infected.

The teenager got sick with aches, pains and a high fever on July 12. He was hospitalized a few days later and tested positive for hepatitis A, according to the lawsuit.

Twenty-two people got sick and more than 4,500 people received preventive shots during a recent hepatitis A outbreak centered in Milan that crossed from Illinois into Iowa.

Two food handlers at the Illinois restaurant were among the sick, but Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp. said Thursday no one who was sick knowingly worked at the restaurant after officials identified the problem.

Both lawsuits also name Kevin Murphy, who owns the fast food franchise in Milan, as a defendant. Murphy said in a statement that he took immediate action to address concerns raised by county health officials as soon as they identified the problem.

Rock Island County Health Department spokeswoman Theresa Foes said about 200 people came in for shots Wednesday. And a vaccine clinic at Rock Island High School drew more than 4,400 people Monday and Tuesday.

The outbreak included two Iowa cases. A spokeswoman for the Health Department in Scott County, Iowa, said both people had eaten at a McDonald's restaurant in Milan.

Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who has handled numerous foodborne illness cases, represents the plaintiffs in both lawsuits.

"Hepatitis A can make you very sick, and in rare cases, endanger the liver," Marler said in a statement announcing the Mrasaks' lawsuit. "This is not a disease to be taken lightly, and the medical costs associated with cannot be taken lightly either."

More on this outbreak: McDonald's Hepatitis A Outbreak

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