Mitchells & Butlers faces a legal fight after it was reported that almost 200 people are pursuing a lawsuit against its Toby Carvery chain following a bout of severe sickness.
London-based solicitors Irwin Mitchell confirmed they are currently representing 193 people who were affected by the norovirus after eating at a branch of Toby Carvery in Exeter, Devon.
The outbreak took place just before this Easter, with newspaper reports claiming the restaurant attracted criticism for failing to shut down immediately after being made aware of the outbreak.
It instead cleaned the premises overnight before continuing to trade over the Easter period.
“It is very alarming to see this number of people affected by an illness outbreak of this nature in the UK,” Tonia Kingsley, an expert public health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, was quoted as saying.
“We are now representing 193 people affected by the norovirus outbreak and we have launched an investigation to understand the cause of the illness and how it was able to affect so many people.”
Tests run by the Environmental Health department after a man was ill in the restaurant at the end of March tested positive for the virus.
Although the pub underwent an overnight deep clean, more customers continued to fall ill.
It is claimed that a Toby Carvery spokesman said after the initial report that staff completed a steam clean of the business and were told by Environmental Health they were safe to continue to trade.
The spokesman said bosses at the chain had made the decision to voluntarily close the Toby Carvery at Exeter.
He said: “We take the well-being of all our customers very seriously. We would like to reassure our guests that hygiene standards are of primary importance to our business and we have taken all the necessary safety precautions before reopening.”