Chi-Chi’s Lawsuits Withdrawn

Originally Published: December 3, 2003

By Bill Vidonic, Times Staff Writer

Three lawsuits filed against Chi-Chi’s Mexican restaurant have been withdrawn while lawyers decide whether to hold the restaurant responsible, or also those who may have supplied the source of the hepatitis A outbreak, green onions.

There are now at least eight lawsuits filed against Chi-Chi’s or its parent company, Prandium Inc., in Beaver County.

Another lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, names four suppliers of green onions as defendants, but does not name Chi-Chi’s as a defendant.

According to state health officials, the count of those sickened in the hepatitis A outbreak remained at 615 people Tuesday. Three people have died from the illness, which state and federal officials blame on contaminated green onions brought into the restaurant and traced to Mexican farms.

In the latest suits filed last week in Beaver County Court, Keith and Melissa Lewis of Center Township and Mark D. Devich and Jeannie L. Devich of Independence Township are suing Chi-Chi’s.

On Monday, a federal suit was filed on behalf of Richard Miller, 57, of Beaver, and his wife, Linda, after Richard Miller needed a liver transplant on Nov. 8 as he was sickened in the hepatitis A outbreak. That lawsuit names the onion suppliers.

Lawsuits filed on behalf of Mark and Amy Holton of Aliquippa, and Laura Cameron and Brian Prichinello, both of Ambridge, have been withdrawn by [Jerry Meyers formerly of] the Pittsburgh law firm of Meyers, Rosen, Louik& Perry P.C. {Jerry Meyers, now of Meyers Evans Lupetin & Unatin, LLC}. Chi-Chi’s remains in bankruptcy proceedings.

When the lawsuits might be refiled, and who the defendants might be, according to attorney Jerry Meyers, remains to be seen.

“Chi-Chi’s is morally and legally responsible,” Meyers said, but added that as the investigation continues into the path of the green onions, more defendants could be added.

“No one who is responsible will be excluded,” Meyers said.

Bill Vidonic can be reached online at bvidonic@timesonline.com.

All articles in this blog are the collaborative effort of attorneys Jerry Meyers, Brendan Lupetin, and Gregory Unatin.

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