Third Hepatitis Lawsuit Filed Against Townsend Farms and Costco in Orange County

SAN DIEGO,  The Houston-based food safety law firm of Simon & Luke, with co-counsel Gomez & Iagmin, has filed a third lawsuit stemming from a multi-state Hepatitis A outbreak linked to consumption of frozen berries manufactured by Oregon-based Townsend Farms and sold at Costco stores.


The lawsuit was filed against Townsend Farms and Costco Corporation in the Superior Court of Orange County, California on behalf of 36-year old Placentia, California resident Andres Nieto.  Mr. Nieto consumed Townsend Farms
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Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend berries he had purchased at a Costco store in Fullerton.


On May 1, he began to experience fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint aches.  Over the next week, his condition worsened, and he developed nausea, fevers and cold chills, his urine turned dark, and his skin and eyes turned yellow (jaundice).  On May 8, he went to a local Urgent Care facility in Anaheim, where doctors examined him, prescribed medicine for nausea, and drew blood.  He was discharged later that day with a diagnosis of possible hepatitis and instructions to drink liquids.


The next day, Plaintiff was informed that his liver enzymes were dangerously elevated, and instructed to immediately go to St. Joseph’s Hospital Emergency Room.  At St. Joseph’s, doctors performed numerous tests (including blood work), and waited for the results.  Approximately 5 hours later, Plaintiff was informed that he had contracted Hepatitis A.  Plaintiff was later discharged with a diagnosis of severe Hepatitis A virus, and instructed to return home to drink lots of fluids, maintain bed rest, and undergo scheduled blood testing.


Plaintiff continues to experience severe fatigue.  He is still receiving medical treatment, including serial blood tests and a recommendation for a liver scan to determine long term liver damage.  He has lost 15 pounds and missed one month from work as a result of his illness.


Ms. Nieto is one of at least 61 victims in 7 states who contracted Hepatitis A after consuming frozen Townsend Farm berries.  The victims are located in California, Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico,Nevada, and Utah.


Per the CDC website, Hepatitis A is spread when food or drink contaminated by feces of an infected person is ingested by mouth.


Simon & Luke and Gomez Iagmin filed the first Hepatitis A lawsuit in the United States against Townsend Farms and Costco in Los Angeles on June 3 on behalf of a 51-year old resident of Lakewood, California.   Immediately thereafter, Townsend Farms issued a recall of the tainted berries.   The firms have now filed two more lawsuits in San Diego and Orange Counties.


Prior to the lawsuits, Costco had already begun notifying customers to discard the product, despite Townsend Farms’ refusal to acknowledge the link between the frozen berry mix and Hepatitis A illnesses.  That process is still not complete.


Ron Simon, counsel for Ms. Wilson, issued the following statement today: “Costco and Townsend Farms’ delay in notifying customers that their berries contained human feces is inexcusable.  Our lawsuits will get to the bottom of that delay so it does not happen again.”


John H. Gomez, co-counsel, affirms “Californians deserve safe food. In case after case, we fight hard to ensure that it is.”


Simon & Luke currently represents dozens of victims involved in this outbreak, and anticipates filing many more lawsuits in the coming weeks.



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