June 18, 2018

Firefly Tapas Kitchen Lawsuit Puts Food Safety on Trial

Las-Vegas-Food-Poisoning-InA Salmonella lawsuit filed against the Las Vegas restaurant, Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar, is calling into question the establishment’s past food safety discipline in an attempt to achieve justice for the people who suffered serious illnesses in an outbreak that received nationwide attention back in April and May. According to a legal complaint on file in Nevada’s Clark County District Court, the restaurant’s food safety inspection score was so overloaded with demerits at the time of the outbreak that the facility was shut down to minimize ongoing risk to public health. It has since reopened.

At Pritzker Olsen Attorneys, the case has been assigned to the firm’s Bad Bug Law Team, which has been working on pre-settlement issues surrounding insurance and the lawsuit’s allegations of negligence and other fault. The suit lays out a scenario of reckless food safety practices and demands punitive damages above and beyond what the restaurant should pay Salmonella outbreak victims for their medical expenses, lost work, other expenses, pain, suffering and future costs related to follow-up treatment and conditions. “The defendant’s violation of food safety practices as alleged in this complaint was willful, reckless and conscious,” the complaint states. “It showed a total disregard for the safety and rights of the plaintiff and other likely situated citizens.”

According to a memorandum from the Southern Nevada Health District, more than 330 people were sickened in the outbreak, including some who were hospitalized. The group of Firefly Salmonella outbreak victims includes people who ate at the restaurant on 3900 Paradise Road between April 21 – 26, 2013. Authorities first were alerted to the cluster of food poisoning cases when people from eight separate groups of Firefly on Paradise customers reported having diarrhea, nausea, fever, painful cramps and other symptoms. As the investigation progressed, the health authority indicated that the likely source of the outbreak was chorizo sausage cooked by restaurant staff.

According to a subsequent report by Dr. Linh Nguyen, an epidemiologist for the health department,  inspectors of the restaurant’s kitchens found “numerous conditions… that could contribute to an outbreak of foodborne disease. Those conditions included inadequate holding of food, inadequate cooling of food, improper hand washing by employees, bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food, improper cleaning of facilities and improper thawing of food. Other safety gaps noted in the lawsuit include raw ground beef stored over cooked chicken and raw seafood; multiple fruit flies and small moths in the cooking area and broken cooking thermometers (despite being in ice, some thermometers read over 100 degrees).

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