WASHINGTON - A Maryland man has filed class-action lawsuit against a nationwide smoothie chain after the Virginia Department of Health said there have been 28 confirmed cases of hepatitis A across the state linked to drinks served by chain.
Last week, Virginia’s health department issued a warning to customers of Tropical Smoothie Café that they may have been exposed to the virus after stores in Virginia used frozen strawberries imported from Egypt that were linked to a strain of hepatitis A responsible for previous outbreaks.
After being notified by the Virginia Department of Health, the smoothie chain voluntarily pulled all of its strawberries sourced from Egypt and said most of their strawberries are primarily imported from Mexico and California.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Constantinos Raptis, claims he became ill from hepatitis A after he purchased several smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Café's Purcellville, Virginia location in early August and is seeking damages of $100,000.
There have been 10 confirmed hepatitis A cases linked to Tropical Smoothie Café in northern Virginia.
Regarding the lawsuit, Tropical Smoothie Café said in a statement:
"We have not received notice of the suit. However, we have some of the highest safety standards in the industry and will defend ourselves vigorously."
The health department said anyone who has consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries within in the last 50 days is advised to watch out for symptoms of hepatitis A, which may include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools. Exposure to the virus can occur through direct contact with another person with the infection or consuming food or drink contaminated with the virus.
For more information about hepatitis A, go to http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/hepatitis-a/