Second Jacksonville restaurant named in food contamination lawsuit

Lawyer says there could be a third restaurant named soon, pending investigation

By Travis Gibson - Reporter, Mary Baer - 5, 6 & 10 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new lawsuit filed this week claims another Southside restaurant served contaminated basil that made at least one customer sick. 

On Tuesday, the national food safety law firm of Ron Simon & Associates filed the first cyclospora lawsuit against Bazille Café, a restaurant located on the second floor of Nordstrom at the St. Johns Town Center, for serving contaminated Mexican basil that was linked to a national cyclospora outbreak believed to have sickened 241 people in 11 states.  

The lawsuit comes just a few months after 100 customers of Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant claimed they were also sickened by a foodborne parasite around the same time.

The lawsuit against Bazille Café and the importers and distributors of the contaminated basil is on behalf of Ponte Vedra Beach resident Holly Green-Pellegrini. 

Green-Pellegrini told News4Jax that she and her husband ate at Bazille Café on July 17 and had the heirloom tomatoes and burrata appetizer, among other dishes. A week later she started experiencing symptoms. 

"The second day [the symptoms] started I had severe pain from head to toe," Green-Pellegrini said. "This unbearable pain I have ever had in my life. Nothing would touch it."

Green-Pellegrini said that she suffered from intense vomiting, diarrhea and significant weight loss days after eating at the restaurant. Doctors eventually confirmed that she had contracted cyclosporiasis from contaminated food. 

State health officials later determined that she was part of a larger outbreak of several patrons who had eaten contaminated basil at Bazille Café at Nordstrom, according to her lawyer Tony Coveny. Coveny is representing clients in both the Cooper's Hawk and Nordstrom‘s cyclospora outbreaks.

"We have positively identified two restaurants locally and there is a third that we are investigating where we know people got sick and we believe in each one of those situations it was the Mexican basil that was consumed," Coveny said. "Our goal in these lawsuits is to protect food from farm to table."

Abby Smith said she ordered a salad at Cooper's Hawk. Eight days after she ate it, she started to feel ill.

"I started to experience a really quick onset of flu-like symptoms, which resulted in gastrointestinal issues," Smith said. "In August, I tested again for the cyclospora, and I still had a positive test. I retested. About two weeks ago, it's finally negative but I still have symptoms of an angry stomach.

"I would like one day to wake up and say I feel great again because I don't feel great. It's a struggle."

A manager at Bazille told News4Jax on Wednesday she was unable to comment and referred all questions to the corporate office. A corporate spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

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