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O.C. restaurant hit with $3.2 million verdict

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
By NANCY LUNA
The Orange County Register
A San Clemente woman left with permanent nerve damage after eating an Ahi tuna appetizer at Salt Creek Grille was awarded $3.2 million by an Orange County jury.
The Dana Point eatery plans to appeal the July 11 verdict for Alexis Sarti, 22. She sued the 10-year-old Craftsman-style eatery after a near fatal incident stemming from “cross contamination” of her raw fish with campylobacter jejuni, bacteria found in raw poultry.
The bacteria attacked her nervous system, causing temporary double vision and paralysis from head to toe after the April, 2005 incident, according to the lawsuit she filed last year.
A jury ordered Salt Creek to pay her $3.2 million in damages, considered one of the largest punitive fines levied against a California restaurant in a case involving this specific bacteria, said Sarti’s Newport Beach attorneys Keith Bremer and Tyler Offenhauser.
In a statement released today, Salt Creek’s president and co-founder Tim McCune said he is confident that the verdict would be overturned on appeal “and our company and staff will be vindicated.”
“Salt Creek Grille has been in business for 10 years,” McCune stated. “During that time and in our three locations, we have served well over two million guests. Our number one priority has been, and will always be, the safety and well being of our guests.”
As a result of the incident, Sarti, a cross-country runner, said she has 40 percent nerve damage in her body and can’t walk long distances. She often uses a wheelchair, she said. “I still can’t walk up and down stairs and I can’t run,” Sarti said today.
CONTACT US: nluna@ocregister.com