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Hardee's customers exposed to Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) at two South Carolina locations are suing the burger chain, the Food Poison Journal reports. The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of people treated for Hepatitis after eating at Hardee's restaurants with an infected worker.
Earlier this month, on September 17, the state's health department learned that a person infected with HAV was working at two of the chain's locations and issued a public health warning. As a result, nearly 4,000 individuals received post-exposure treatment, including the class action lawsuit's lead plaintiff, Cody Werkmeister.
Should Hardee's Have Tried Harder?
The food safety firm representing the class, Seattle-based Marler Clark LLP, says Hardee's is responsible for this public health emergency. It alleges that the fast food chain is at fault for allowing an employee to work while infected with HAV.
The plaintiffs' attorneys also say that Hardee's failed to properly supervise, train, or monitor employees preparing food for public consumption. The company should also have required that its food-service employees all obtain immunizations against HAV.
"Any exposure to hepatitis A is entirely preventable," said plaintiff's counsel, Bill Marler. "By not requiring employees to be vaccinated against the virus, Hardee's puts itself and all of its customers at risk. However, had all employees been vaccinated ... customers wouldn't be panicking now to receive treatment."
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fatigue, fever, nausea, and yellowing of the skin.
Company Keeps Quiet
Hardee's does not appear to have publicly responded to the lawsuit. Unlike Whataburger, a Texas chain which recently managed a PR scandal almost entirely on Twitter, Hardee's seems to have made no mention of its woes on social media. The chain's Twitter feed for September is focused mostly on Ultimate Fighting Championship Ronda Rousey and cinnamon swirl French toast.
If you have been exposed to a disease at Hardee's or some other restaurant, you may want to speak with a personal injury lawyer.