A class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Hardee’s Food Systems LLC of Delaware following the announcement last week that customers and workers at two Hardee’s restaurants in Spartanburg County might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
The lawsuit, filed by Cody Werkmeister of Spartanburg County, accuses the company of selling food products prepared by an employee infected with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) and therefore “unreasonably dangerous.” Among other charges, the company is accused of negligence for selling a product “not fit for human consumption.” Hardee’s also is accused of failure to adequately supervise and train employees, failure to require employees be vaccinated against HAV, and failure to prevent an HAV infected person from preparing food.
The suit alleges Werkmeister ate at one of the restaurants around Sept. 8. After the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a health alert on Sept. 17, Werkmeister was vaccinated Sept. 21 against HAV at a clinic.
The suit says more than 3,000 people might be covered as members of the class exposed to hepatitis A at one of the two Hardee’s locations in Lyman and Duncan.
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It seeks damages as deemed appropriate by the court.
DHEC has treated more than 3,700 people for potential hepatitis A exposure in Greenville and Spartanburg counties after it was discovered customers at the two Hardee’s restaurants might have been at risk from the infected employee.
Customers who might have been exposed to the virus include those who ate or drank products from the Hardee’s locations at 12209 Greenville Highway in Lyman between Aug. 31 and Sept. 15 and at 1397 E. Main St. in Duncan between Sept. 1 and Sept. 13, health officials said. Customers who dined at those locations outside of the specified time frames are not believed to be at risk, according to DHEC.
An effort Wednesday to reach a Hardee’s representative in South Carolina for comment was unsuccessful.
The Greenville News contributed to this report
FACTS ABOUT HEPATITIS A
The hepatitis A virus is highly contagious. Is is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, through contact with food or drink contaminated by fecal matter from an infected person. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention