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E. coli suit against restaurant


Staff Writer: WOOSTER

An area family plans to file a lawsuit against a Wooster restaurant after an E. coli outbreak involving at least 10 area residents.

The lawsuit alleges the King Garden Restaurant on Benden Drive is responsible for a toddler's E. coli infection and subsequent 10-day bout with diarrhea and cramps.

The suit is being filed by Christine and Alex Conway of Wooster. Their 2-year-old daughter allegedly was served food contaminated with the E. coli bacteria on Sept. 15, rendering her ill, according to the complaint.

The family is being represented by the Marler Clark law firm of Seattle, with Cincinnati attorney Maury Tepper associated as legal counsel.

Tepper said the suit has been sent to Wayne County and should be received and filed on Monday.

The family is asking for damages in excess of $25,000. The complaint states the family has suffered financial and emotional damages.

Reached Friday afternoon, Christine Conway declined to comment on the suit, but said their daughter, Lily, has improved.

"She's doing much better," Conway said. "She's eating better."

Conway said she and her husband weren't sick.

At the King Garden, there was no answer Friday afternoon. A recorded message there said the restaurant would reopen today.

Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Halley said the restaurant was cleared by the Wayne County Department of Health to open.

Testing on all the employees came back negative, meaning there is no infectious carrier among the less than 20 workers.

Health officials will be at the King Garden when it reopens, Halley said. The employees also underwent training by the department as to how to safely operate the restaurant.

Halley said folks should have no concern about eating there.

"We would not allow them to reopen if we thought it wasn't safe," he said.

On Sept. 26, the health department reported four E. coli cases. That number grew to seven by Monday, and five potential cases were identified Tuesday. On Friday, three of those five were confirmed, bringing the total to 10.

Of the two remaining, one was deemed probable by the health department, and one remains pending.

Halley said eight of the confirmed cases are in children ages 2-15. A ninth is a 31-year-old woman, and a 10th is a 67-year-old woman. Nine of the individuals live in Wayne County, and one lives in Medina County.

All of the 10 confirmed, plus the one probable, ate at the King Garden, Halley said.

The restaurant had voluntarily closed pending the outcome of a health department investigation.

Halley said the source of the infection hasn't been confirmed.

"I don't know that we'll ever have anything that points to a main food," he said, saying a common food the victims had eaten could not be found.

In some young children, an infection of E. coli can lead to kidney failure and sometimes be fatal. A 23-month-old West Salem girl died of an infection in August.

Two children remained hospitalized with E. coli infections Friday at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron. Condition reports on the children were unavailable.

According to Marler Clark's Web site, the firm has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illness. The firm has recovered several multi-million dollar judgments in lawsuits involving E. coli outbreaks and outbreaks of other foodborne illnesses.

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