JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The national food safety law firm of Ron Simon & Associates filed its first cyclospora lawsuit against a local restaurant company in Jacksonville.
Nearly two dozen people in the city are suspected of having contracted a gastrointestinal illness called cyclospoiaris.
The lawsuit states the parasite was traced back to Mexican basil which was distributed to several restaurants in Jacksonville including Coopers Hawk Winery and Restaurant and Nordstrom at St. Johns town center.
Within days of eating food at Coopers Hawk restaurant earlier this summer Abby Smith claims she suffered from headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
“I hope that one day I wake up and feel 100 percent,” Smith explained.
Smith was forced to get medical treatment before doctors confirmed that she had even contracted cyclospora from contaminated food.
“I was a mess. I’m still undergoing treatment through a GI clinic here,” Smith said.
Food safety attorney Tony Coveny says he and his colleagues with Ron Simon & Associates have prosecuted thousands of food poisoning cases for victims across the country.
Recently they filed a lawsuit against Cooper's Hawk and Nordstrom at St. Johns town center where dozens claimed they got sick after eating there.
“In Jacksonville alone we are aware of at least 20 people who either have tested positive or have tests pending right now with health agencies,” said Coveny.
Coveny also says symptoms can begin one week after exposure to the parasite and last even longer.
“We filed lawsuits in order to get the discovery process started so that we can find out how widely this contaminated basil was distributed,” Coveny said.
In addition to that he says symptoms can last days or a month for some people who are diagnosed.
“I didn’t know what was wrong with me for almost a month,” Smith added.
But others can be a carrier of the parasite and experience no symptoms at all, according to Coveny.
"People have no way to know what they're eating is contaminated," said Coveny.
Coveny told Action News Jax there are already nearly 1,700 reported cases of the parasite.
He says it can only be diagnosed by a lab test ordered by a doctor.
Cox Media Group