A Casper law firm filed a class action suit against the Golden Corral on Friday, alleging the buffet-style restaurant was negligent in preventing a norovirus outbreak late last year.

The plaintiffs will be represented by Jason Ochs of Ochs Law Firm, but the exact size of the class is unknown at this point.

According to a recent report by the Wyoming Department of Health, there were at least 305 cases of foodborne illness reported by people who had patronized the restaurant from Nov. 17 to Dec. 19. In an earlier interview, health officials stressed that this number only represented the reported cases, and said it could represent only the “tip of the iceberg.”

The Department of Health report states that 21 employees reported working with symptoms of diarrhea or vomiting.

The department estimated that about 7,000 individuals ate at the Golden Corral between Nov. 17 and Dec. 19.

The suit questions whether the restaurant did enough to prevent the outbreak. It alleges the defendant was negligent in the food’s manufacturing and sale and that the defendant allowed employees to work while infected with the virus.

The Star-Tribune was unable to reach representatives from Golden Corral for comment by late Friday afternoon.

Ochs' co-counsel in the suit is Seattle attorney William D. Marler, whose firm was the lead counsel in the Jack-in-the-Box E. coli litigation as well as several other high-profile class action suits.

The suit does not identify a specific amount sought in damages, but states the damages will be fully proven at the time of trial. They will include restitution for plaintiffs' meal costs and as “all other ordinary, incident and consequential damages as would be anticipated to arise under the circumstances.”

The attorneys hope to identify other potential class members in the near future.

“Our clients and our team are committed to making sure that this kind of outbreak never again happens to the community of Casper,” Ochs said in a statement released shortly after the suit was filed.

Reach crime reporter Megan Cassidy at 307-266-0534 or megan.cassidy@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @meganrcassidy.

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