Fern Hill Golf & Country Club Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuits - Michigan (2005)


In May of 2005, the Macomb County Health Department (MCHD) received notice that five Macomb County residents had recently tested positive for Salmonella infection, and commenced an outbreak investigation. MCHD staff interviewed the five case-patients, and learned that all had become ill shortly after attending an after-concert reception held at the Macomb County Community College Performing Arts Center in Clinton Township. MCHD staff learned that after-concert events had been held on two consecutive nights, at the Arts Center. Twenty dessert items plus coffee, wine and champagne were served. The dessert items were provided by Fern Hill Golf and Country Club and two other vendors.

MCHD interviewed 70 people who had attended after-concert events; twenty-three reported symptoms consistent with Salmonellosis, and eight were laboratory-confirmed with Salmonella. Data analysis established a statistically significant association between consumption of éclairs served both days and illness. An on-site evaluation at the Fern Hill Golf and Country Club kitchen, two critical violations were noted: the bakery dishwasher did not have a detectable level of chlorine sanitizer and raw eggs were stored above milk and ready to eat foods in the bakery walk-in refrigerator.

Although the Macomb County Health Department was unable to identify how food items served and prepared at Fern Hill had become contaminated with Salmonella, the MCHD identified éclairs as the likely source of illness in its outbreak report submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MCHD listed eight confirmed cases of Salmonella and 17 probable cases as part of the Salmonella outbreak traced to the Macomb County Community College “After-Concert” reception.

Marler Clark’s Salmonella lawyers represented several women, all of whom became ill with Salmonella infections in the days following their attendance at after-concert receptions and received emergency medical treatment or were hospitalized as a result of their infections. The cases were resolved in mid-2006.