On February 6, 2006 the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) began receiving reports that customers who had eaten at Corky & Lenny’s had become ill with Salmonella infections and immediately initiated an epidemiological and environmental investigation in response to the reported illnesses.
The number of ill patrons continued to climb, and CCBH identified persistent improper food handling procedures at the restaurant during its inspection. The owners of Corky & Lenny’s closed the restaurant on February 10 until the reason for the outbreak could be identified.
Forty-eight confirmed cases and 64 probable cases of salmonellosis were epidemiologically linked to Corky & Lenny’s between January 21, 2006 and February 18, 2006. Twenty three people (20%) were hospitalized.
Consumption of chopped liver and salad/vegetables was significantly associated with illness. Data analysis showed that consuming salad/vegetables without consuming chopped liver remained statistically associated with illness. Among patrons who did not report consuming either chopped liver or salad/vegetables, the consumption of matzo ball soup was found to be statistically significant.
In the outbreak report prepared by the CCBH, health investigators concluded that the outbreak was prolonged because of “cross contamination of chopped liver by the contaminated oil [used in matzo ball soup] after preparation and unsanitary food handling practices which were confirmed through laboratory analysis of submitted food sample[s].”
Marler Clark filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Cleveland-area woman who contracted Salmonella after consuming food from Corky and Lenny’s. The firm represented fourteen patrons of the restaurant, most who were hospitalized as a result of their Salmonella infections.