(July 15) An attorney for beleagured restaurant chain Chi-Chi’s said the company expected to file a lawsuit July 19 or 20 against its green onion suppliers in a legal fight that started with an outbreak of hepatitis A in one of its restaurants last November.

About two weeks after the Louisville, Ky.-based Mexican restaurant chain settled claims of about $1.5 million with about 70 litigants who claimed to have been made ill at a Beaver County, Pa., Chi-Chi’s, Fred Gordon, a San Diego attorney representing the restaurant, said his client likely would seek to recover those losses — and then some — from suppliers Castellini Co., Wilder, Ky.; NewStar Fresh Foods LLC, Salinas, Calif.; Apio Fresh LLC, Guadalupe, Calif.; and Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., as well as distributor Sysco Corp., Houston.

Telephone calls to all of the companies were not returned.

Four people died from, and more than 650 people reported, illnesses with hepatitis A symptoms after having eaten dishes that included green onions imported from Mexico in November at a Monaca, Pa., Chi-Chi’s restaurant, said Seattle-based attorney William Marler, who represents about 70 claimants.

Marler said as many as 300 people filed claims against Chi-Chi’s before the June 4 deadline to do so.

Marler said Pennsylvania law places responsibility for the safety of a restaurant’s food on the shoulders of the restaurant. However, Chi-Chi’s can seek compensation from its suppliers, he said.

“Chi-Chi’s, under Pennsylvania law is strictly liable for the injuries to customers, because they’d be determined to be the manufacturer of the product,” Marler said. “But, certainly, Chi-Chi’s has potential claims, contractual and indemnity claims against their upstream suppliers. Chi-Chi’s has talked about filing a lawsuit against their suppliers in bankruptcy court, but they have not done so to date.”