National

Japan restaurant chain ordered to pay damages over raw-meat food poisoning deaths

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ordered restaurant chain operator Foods Forus Co. to pay ¥169 million ($1.58 million) to the families of three victims who died from food poisoning after eating raw meat at one of its barbecue restaurants in 2011.

While the court awarded damages to the plaintiffs, it ruled that the former president of Foods Forus, which is filing for special liquidation, was not guilty of gross negligence. The plaintiffs had sought around ¥209 million in damages and medical treatment expenses from the company and the former president.

Around 180 customers developed symptoms of food poisoning after dining at six Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu restaurants in four prefectures — Kanagawa, Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui — in April 2011. A strain of E. coli, O-111, was found in many of the victims.

Five died due to illness. Nine plaintiffs, including the families of three who died after eating at the outlet in Tonami, Toyama Prefecture, sued the company and the former president in October 2014.

In February 2016, police investigated the former president on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death or injury and sent the case to prosecutors. But the prosecutors decided not to indict him.

The families of the victims are considering filing a petition with a prosecution inquest panel in a bid to overturn the decision.