September 21, 2016 — Tropical Smoothie Café is facing a growing number of lawsuits and class actions from victims of an outbreak of hepatitis A.
The most recent lawsuit (PDF) was filed in Prince William County Circuit Court on behalf of Robert Daly, a man from Virginia who drank several smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Café in July and August.
In late August, Daly became ill with fever, nausea, and body aches. Doctors initially sent him home, but after his condition worsened he returned to the hospital and was diagnosed with hepatitis A.
He was hospitalized for three days and was is still recovering. It is not unusual for symptoms to last several months, and 10% of victims have symptoms for six months.
As of noon yesterday, 102 residents of Virginia tested positive for hepatitis A after drinking a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Café between May and September. Approximately 37% were hospitalized.
The first lawsuit was filed in late August by a man who was infected with hepatitis A and hospitalized for four days. He is asking for $100,000 in damages to pay for his medical expenses, lost wages, physical injury and emotional distress.
A few class action lawsuits have also been filed on behalf of everyone who was exposed and got a vaccine to prevent infection. Last week, a group of seven victims who were infected with hepatitis A filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County, Virginia. The plaintiffs include one woman from Texas and six people from Virginia.
On August 5, the Virginia Department of Health reportedly told Tropical Smoothie Café about an investigation into cases of hepatitis A from frozen strawberries imported from Egypt.
It took another four days for the company to stop serving the strawberries, and it was not until August 19 that the public was made aware of the outbreak. Lawyers have been critical of the two-week delay. Hepatitis A infections can be prevented with a vaccine or a shot of Immune Globulin (IG), but only during the first two weeks after exposure.
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