Nobody wants to go through salmonella infection. The typically foodborne illness can cause stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps. While usually not fatal in otherwise healthy adults, the experience is highly unpleasant. It can also be a nightmare for a restaurant or other food-based business that is accused of spreading salmonella.

Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar is accused of doing that recently at one of its Las Vegas locations. Health authorities believe at least 86 diners at the restaurant in late April were poisoned with salmonella bacteria. So far, at least 45 people are considering personal injury litigation against Firefly.

Among those who claim to have been sickened at Firefly are a group of Air Force servicemembers, as well as several local residents. The number of potential plaintiffs could be higher than 86 because that figure only includes salmonella reports to the Southern Nevada Health District, which would likely not hear about tourists becoming ill after returning home.

The Firefly location was shut down by health inspectors following the outbreak. At this point, it is not known whether the salmonella originated at the restaurant or from the businesses that supply it with food. If it is the latter, Firefly may avoid or share liability instead of facing litigation on its own. If the restaurant is eventually found liable in court or chooses to settle claims against it, insurance may cover those costs as well. Unless any plaintiff can prove permanent or long-lasting injury, their damages should be fairly modest.

However, the cost to the restaurant’s reputation may be long-lasting. The business may have to work hard to assure Las Vegas residents and tourists that the restaurant is safe to eat at.

Source: VEGAS INC, “What the Firefly outbreak means for the restaurant’s future and the alleged victims’ pocketbooks,” Ed Komenda, May 8, 2013