ACT News


Copa Restaurant pays out two Canberra children, but they won't get money until they are 18

The Copa Brazilian Restaurant has been ordered to pay out two children after its mass food poisoning of diners last year. 

But the children will not be able to access the money until they're 18, due to infant settlement laws.

Large numbers of diners were struck down by salmonella poisoning at the then newly-opened restaurant in Dickson in May last year. 

The poisoning was caused by a potato salad served with a bad raw egg mayonnaise.

The owners of the restaurant are now embroiled in two sets of court action; civil and criminal. 

The civil action, thought to be the largest of its kind in ACT history, has seen Copa pay out an estimated $1 million to victims.


On Tuesday, the restaurant was ordered to pay out more money, this time to two child plaintiffs represented by Aulich Civil Law.

Both were juveniles, with one receiving $5446 and the other $5379. 

The orders were made after lawyers for the children and defence reached settlement, and Copa was also told to pay court costs and an amount to Medicare.

Aulich Civil Law director Jon May said infant settlements needed the approval of the court for a range of reasons.

"Whenever you have an infant who settles a damages claim, you can agree with the other side, then once you reach the agreement you need the court to approve the settlement," Mr May said.

"Basically, it's to ensure that the court still gets to see the facts of the case to find out that the parties have done a proper settlement for that infant."

He said his firm had represented about seven children, including a toddler, affected by the food poisoning.

But the money will remain with the Public Trustee for the ACT until the plaintiffs are adults.

The owners of the restaurant, listed as Zeffirelli Pizza Restaurant Pty Ltd, are also facing criminal charges over the salmonella outbreak.

A major ACT Health investigation found the egg supplier in Victoria to be responsible for the bad eggs. 

But ACT food safety law allows someone to be criminally charged if they either knowingly or negligently sell unsafe food. 

The criminal case is still in its early stages and is ongoing in the ACT Magistrates Court. 

The Copa Restaurant has since closed its doors, despite reopening for a period after the salmonella outbreak under the watch of ACT Health authorities.

It had apologised to customers and removed all products containing raw egg from its menu.

The vast majority of civil claims – run by firms Aulich Civil Law, Slater and Gordon, Bradley Allen Love and Maliganis Edward Johnston – against the restaurant are thought to have settled. 

Mr May said his firm was pleased with the outcomes for its clients.

"That's the majority of the claims resolved and resolved well for each claimant," he said.

"On the whole Aulich Civil Law is very happy with the way the matters have resolved."

Greek restaurant Plaka has since replaced the all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue at the Dickson location.