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Copa Brazilian Churrasco food poisoning legal action launched

The Copa Brazilian Churrasco restaurant in Dickson.

The Copa Brazilian Churrasco restaurant in Dickson.

More than 70 diners who fell victim to Canberra’s largest salmonella outbreak have launched legal action against a Dickson restaurant.

The affected patrons have banded together to take civil action against the Copa Brazilian Churrasco restaurant over the poisoning.

The group, represented by Canberra law firm Aulich Civil Law, filed papers in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, claiming damages for personal injury.

Aulich Civil Law director Jonathon May said he represented 77 clients on the action. "Each claimant has provided instructions to commence proceedings and to have the matter determined by the court as soon as possible.  As far as we are aware, this is the largest civil action involving food poisoning in Canberra."

About 140 diners fell ill and 15 were admitted to hospital after eating home-made mayonnaise – made using raw eggs later found to contain salmonella – at the restaurant on May 12 last year.

The Copa removed all products containing raw eggs from the menu and issued an apology in the wake of the incident, expressing its "sincere compassion and genuine sorrow".

Court documents said the diners suffered injury, loss and damage as a result of mass poisoning, which they claim was caused by Copa’s negligence, breach of contract, and a statutory breach.

They allege the restaurant failed in its duty to take reasonable precautions for its patrons’ health, to ensure food was fit for consumption, and to have in place measures to guard against the supply of contaminated food.

"The supply of food and beverages by the defendant to the plaintiff was a supply of goods and services within the meaning of the Australian Consumer Law," the claim reads.

"The supply was subject to the guarantee of acceptable quality set out in the ACL. The food and beverages supplied to the plaintiff were contaminated and were not of acceptable quality within the meaning of the [law]. The supply was therefore in breach of the guarantee as to acceptable quality and the plaintiff suffered loss and damage as a result."

Aulich Civil Law claims patrons suffered 16 different injuries and nine separate disabilities, including dehydration, vomiting, anxiety, weight loss, and required pain relief and antibiotic treatment.

The plaintiffs claimed past and future economic loss from missing work and out-of-pocket expenses, including ongoing medical treatment.

The lawsuit will be served to the restaurant this week. Copa will then be given time to file a defence.

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