Fig & Olive has settled at least 48 cases involving diners in D.C., L.A., and New York who got sick from a salmonella outbreak at the upscale restaurant chain last fall, according to attorney Bill Marler. The Seattle-based foodborne illness lawyer, who represented the majority of the victims, says only four cases—all in California—are unresolved. Twenty four of those who received settlements—not all of whom actually filed lawsuits—were from the D.C.-area, Marler says.
The unsettled cases involve people who “were more significantly injured,” Marler says. “They’re people who were hospitalized for some period of time.” He says one woman who got sick after eating at the West Hollywood location has developed reactive arthritis, also known as Reiter’s syndrome, which can result after a salmonella infection. “It’s pretty devastating. She’s a 19-year-old with one knee that’s the size of a volleyball, and she has had it drained repeatedly,” Marler says.
Fig & Olive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Marler says he’s hoping to resolve the remaining cases in mediation. “And if that doesn’t work, then the cases will go forward through the court system.”
The size of the settlements is confidential, but Marler says “the results were fair.” Some D.C. victims sought as much as $500,000 plus fees in their lawsuits.
“Nobody likes being that sick, but I think the settlement results took that all into account,” Marler says.
The salmonella outbreak shutdown the CityCenterDC location for six days last September. The Food and Drug Administration and local health authorities never definitively determined the exact source of the salmonella (which is not uncommon), but truffle mushroom croquettes were a common denominator among Fig & Olive diners who got sick. Components of the dish were pre-prepared at a Long Island City commissary that supplied Fig & Olive’s restaurants around the country with already-made sauces, dressings, and more. The restaurant chain shut down the commissary for good shortly after the outbreak. In recent months, Fig & Olive has laid off a number of corporate employees and managers.
Hat tip to National Law Journal reporter Zoe Tillman who first noted news of the settlements.