Lawmaker claims raw oysters led to food poisoning


Rep. Vinson Flores Sablan (Ind-Saipan) has said he was one of those who became ill after eating raw oysters at a restaurant during a dinner party in 2015.

In a separate lawsuit, Sablan sued InterPacific Resorts (Saipan) Corp., owner of Pacific Islands Club, and Delta Trading Co., Ltd., owner of H-Mart, for negligence, breach of warranties, violation of Consumer Protection Act, strict liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Sablan, through counsel William M. Fitzgerald, asked the Superior Court to hold the defendants liable for damages. He is demanding a jury trial.

The claims and facts in Sablan’s lawsuit are identical to a separate lawsuit that was filed earlier against the same defendants by nine other persons, including Dr. Lorenzo Hocog, who claimed they became ill after eating oysters at the same party.

Fitzgerald is also counsel for Hocog and eight co-plaintiffs.

InterPacific Resorts, through counsel Richard W. Pierce, has filed a complaint against Delta Trading. Pierce asserted that if the oysters were defective, the liability for any harm lies upon Delta Trading since it was the one that placed the products in the stream of commerce.

In Sablan’s case, Fitzgerald said that Sablan, who was a guest of an FHP/Take Care employee, participated in a company-sponsored dinner party on Feb. 6, 2015, at PIC’s Charley’s Cabaret. The party consisted of 25 FHP employees and guests.

Fitzgerald said the oysters served at the dinner buffet, purchased from Delta Trading by PIC, appeared to be fresh and wholesome.

He said Sablan ate the oysters and the next morning, became violently ill.

Fitzgerald said said other members of the group Sablan was with also became sick.

He said this was reported to the CNMI Department of Public Health. DPH later determined that the person who became ill were those who ate raw oysters at PIC on Feb. 6, 2015.

Fitzgerald said PIC did nothing to investigate the food poisoning of Sablan and simply denied that PIC could be the source.

Fitzgerald said a second incident of food poisoning involving raw oysters occurred at PIC shortly after that FHP/Take Care dinner party.

He noted that on March 5, 2015, Delta Trading informed PIC that the oysters that Delta Trading was distributing to PIC had been recalled as a result of a request by the Food and Drug Administration.

Fitzgerald said PIC’s failure to inform Sablan of the FDA’s recall was “intentional, deliberate, reckless and malicious, designed to conceal the fact that PIC had served contaminated oysters to plaintiff….”

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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