Chris Fronzak, lead singer for the heavy metal band Attila, had to perform several nights last month despite a serious salmonella infection from eating tainted tuna.
When heavy metal singer Chris Fronzak dubbed his latest gig “The Sick Tour,” he didn’t mean it literally.
But by the time the 22-year-old frontman for the band Attila was done with his multi-state concert series, he knew only too well what it meant to be stricken with gut-wrenching salmonella poisoning -- and to still have to strut and scream onstage.
“It was the worst,” recalled the performer known as “Fronz” to his fans and friends. “I was very miserable.”
Fronzak is among at least 258 people sickened by an outbreak of two rare strains of salmonella linked to sushi and other foods made from contaminated tuna.
Seattle law firm Marler Clark, which specializes in foodborne illnesses, filed a lawsuit on Fronzak's behalf Thursday in U.S. district court in Portland, Ore., where the singer lives.
He’s among the first people to sue Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., the firm that last month recalled 58,828 pounds of frozen Nakaochi Scrape, tuna bits gleaned from the backbones of the fish.
Government health officials have linked the Moon Marine tuna to the outbreak of salmonella Bareilly and salmonella Nchanga infections that have put at least 32 people in the hospital.
Fronzak says the culprit is a spicy tuna roll he ate on April 10 in Metairie, La. Thirty hours later, he was in a different state and nearly flattened by vomiting, diarrhea, fever, cramps and more. He spent six days trying to treat the illness himself, traveling in a tour bus and performing nearly nightly shows.
“[Cancelling] would have cost the band several thousand dollars,” said Fronzak. “It left me with no choice.”
Attila, which formed in Atlanta in 2005, has put out several albums, including "Outlawed." Fronzak said the group should be described as "a party metal band." "It's not dark music or anything," he said.
Fronzak's illness got so bad he finally went to an emergency room on a tour stop in Kansas City, Mo., where doctors treated him for pain and performed tests that finally revealed the problem: salmonella poisoning. But it was still several days and several more states before Fronzak got an antibiotic that started to help.
“Before I knew I had salmonella, I honestly thought I had stomach ulcers or liver failure from alcohol,” he Tweeted from his account @Fronz1lla on April 29.
Fronzak said he decided to sue because he has a family -- including a 7-month-old son, Blaise – and no health insurance. He doesn’t think he should be stuck with all the bills, like the $9,872 tab from the hospital in Missouri. He posted that on Twitter, too, with an unprintable hashtag.
“I’m not at fault for any of that,” Fronzak said. “I feel like I’ve been done wrong and I deserve compensation.”
Fronzak is not alone. Government food safety officials estimate that for every salmonella infection they hear about, 29.3 go unreported. Using that multiplier, the tainted tuna may have sickened as many as 7,558 other people.