Shigella patient explains lawsuit against San Jose restaurant owners

David Louie Image
Thursday, October 22, 2015
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A man who was hospitalized with contagious bacteria after eating at a restaurant in San Jose is the first to file a lawsuit against the owners. He says he just wants to make sure this doesn't happen again.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Shigella outbreak in the South Bay is growing, likely because the bacteria is infecting family members of those who ate at Mariscos San Juan #3 in San Jose over the weekend. The first lawsuit against the restaurant was also filed on Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed by the dean of students at a local high school who's been a customer at the restaurant for a couple years. Greg Meissner went to the restaurant on Friday for take-out. By the next day, he was taken down by Shigella.

VIDEO: Victim describes Shigella illness after eating at San Jose restaurant

Meissner was masking how he felt after winding up in the emergency room for seven hours at O'Connor Hospital Saturday night. He developed a 105 degree fever and other symptoms consistent with Shigella after eating a ceviche tostada the day before at Mariscos San Juan #3 on North 4th Street in San Jose.

"It is an extremely high fever, really bad chills, extremely bad cramping, constant running to the bathroom, nausea, vomiting, dizziness," he explained.

Meissner, who is still sick but at home now, is the first to file a lawsuit against the restaurant's owners. He seeks damages for pain and suffering.

"I have no animus against anyone, but I really don't want this to happen again," he said. "Not to me, not to any of my neighbors, not to any of the people that I work with."

The number of suspected cases stands now at 93, including 24 that have been confirmed by lab tests. County health officers believe the reason may be secondary infections as the highly contagious bacteria spreads.

The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation, but is slowed by the fact some restaurant employees have not yet turned in stool samples for testing.

This is believed to be the largest outbreak of Shigella to occur in Santa Clara County.

In 2000, more than 220 people got sick from Shigella bacteria at a Mexican restaurant in Redwood City that is no longer in business.

More lawsuits are expected in the San Jose outbreak.

"Because there are so many people affected, is there enough insurance to go around? And that will be something that perhaps will be part of a class action settlement," said legal analyst Steven Clark.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of Shigella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after being exposed to the bacteria. The symptoms usually go away in 5-10 days. Shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful hand-washing with soap. Click here for further details on Shigella from the CDC.