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Appellate Court Upholds $3.2 Million Verdict in Orange County Food Poisoning Case

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An appellate court has upheld a $3.2 million jury verdict awarded to 25-year-old Alexis Sarti of Costa Mesa, who suffered permanent nerve damage after eating bacteria-contaminated raw tuna at the Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the food poisoning occurred on April 7, 2005. Sarti spent 45 days in the hospital because of the food-borne illness, which stemmed from a cross contamination of her raw tuna with bacteria found in raw poultry.

This 4/7/05 food-poisoning incident apparently had devastating effects on Alexis Sarti. It caused her entire respiratory system to shut down. Sarti became violently ill after eating the contaminated tuna that caused her nervous system to shut down. She experienced double vision and paralysis from head to toe immediately afterwards.

She had to use a walker for eight months after that incident and even now, she has only 40 percent of what would have been her normal endurance. The food poisoning episode had drastic effects on her everyday life as well. A cross country runner at high school, Sarti had to drop out of Saddleback College to endure medical treatment and therapy for a year and a half. More than three years after the incident, she still has muscle spasms and cramps everyday. The contaminated ahi tuna appetizer she ate that day left Alexis Sarti disabled for the rest of her life.

Attorneys for the Salt Creek Grille appealed the July 11, 2006 jury verdict. Sarti says, now that the appellate court has ruled in her favor, she will use the money to pay off at least $1 million in past medical bills and get her life back together.

Sarti’s case is a frightening example of how ordinary cases of food-poisoning can have lifelong effects on your health and well-being. This Orange County case is important because it has also set a precedent, which can now be cited in other food poisoning lawsuits as a “milestone ruling.”

It also sends out a strong message to restaurants, not only in Orange County, but all over California, that they cannot get away with serving their customers contaminated food. In Orange County, consumers are still in the dark because there is no letter rating system (as there is in Los Angeles County) that lets them know how safe or clean a restaurant is.

Our firm represented a client recently who suffered severe Salmonella poisoning after consuming raw quail egg in an Orange County sushi restaurant. You can read his story here. In the case of our client Robert Rife, he couldn’t even get up from his bed for days after the food poisoning incident. Rife also continues to suffer the effects of the Salmonella poisoning years after the incident.

If you or someone you know has been affected by food poisoning as a result of eating at a local restaurant, please contact the Orange County Health Care Agency at their Web site.

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  • Anonymous

    BloggerPal – Sorry, I know I’m *really* late to comment here, but the restaurant in question was a highly reputable, very expensive eatery in Dana Point. I don’t know all the details of the case, but I’d venture to guess the knife used to cut the tuna was also used to cut raw chicken. The bacteria from the chicken transferred to the tuna, and it was odourless and tasteless.

  • This could serve as a lesson to restaurants and other related businesses. The amount of damages on this case may be high considering that the victim has suffered from permanent nerve damage.

  • BloggerPal

    The next time you want to eat tuna or any other food that matter, make sure to go to your trusted restaurant. Ask the owner or waiter where the food comes from and the ingredients, if they look unfamiliar, or tastes awful.

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