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Hepatitis A Outbreak From Sushi Restaurant Leads to $4.5M Settlement

Just about everyone knows the risks of eating raw fish. Just about every sushi restaurant has a tiny disclaimer regarding those risks on their menus. And almost no one would guess that those risks include hepatitis.

But hundreds of people who consumed scallops at Genki Sushi locations in Hawaii in August 2016 -- as well as potentially thousands more exposed to the virus through contact with those infected -- found out the hard way. Now, the sushi chain is shelling out $4.5 million in damages as part of a settlement of a class action lawsuit.

Raw and Risks

According to a state health department investigation, the virus was traced to a single company that supplied raw scallops to Genki Sushi from the Philippines. A total of 292 people contracted Hepatitis A, one person died, and another 120,000 people got vaccinations as a precaution. "The most surprising thing was how many people got shots," said plaintiffs' attorney Trevor Brown. "I had no idea that basically a tenth of Hawaii's population could have received shots."

The current settlement is not for those that actually got sick, however -- it covers those who were potentially exposed to the virus, and got a vaccine shot within two weeks. "These are people who took that precaution when the Department of Health announced it and got the shot within 14 days of their exposure to hepatitis A either through family members, eating at Genki, or eating at places where people who got sick at Genki were working," according to Brown.

Scallop Settlement

That settlement breaks down like this:

  • $350 for people who came in contact with one of the 292 infected with hepatitis A identified by the health department as part of the outbreak;
  • $250 for Genki Sushi patrons who consumed food between August 1 and August 16, 2016 at restaurants on Oahu, Kauai, or Maui; and
  • $150 for those who consumed food or drink from a secondary establishment where an infected employee worked.

Those who have not already joined the class action lawsuit can submit a claim or request exclusion from the settlement until November 29.

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