Health Department Report Raises Serious Questions About the Wyndham Hotel's Sick Leave Policy


SEATTLE, WA – The Texas State Department of Health has concluded that over 3,000 people were exposed to Salmonella Enteritidis while guests of the Wyndham Anatole Hotel during a three-week period beginning in March and continuing through most of April. The hotel is the largest convention hotel in the southwest and many of its guests were business people who were at the hotel to attend conventions and seminars. 650 people from all fifty states are reported to have had symptoms consistent with the illness. It is believed that salsa made by an infected food-worker was the cause of the outbreak.

According to Marler Clark attorney Denis Stearns, “Based on our investigation so far, we understand that the Health Department was alerted on April 5 that a Salmonella outbreak was occurring at the Wyndham, and that its investigation into the source of the outbreak commenced immediately. What is not known, however, is whether the hotel had a sick-leave policy that would have encouraged a sick employee to stay home rather than risk exposing the hotel’s guest to a potentially deadly illness. It is also known what sort of hand washing or glove-use policies the hotel had in place at the time of the outbreak. While it is impossible to say for sure, at least at this point, it certainly is troubling that the hotel knew guests were being exposed, and the exposure continued unabated for a relatively long period of time.”

In a 1996 case like the Wyndham Salmonella outbreak, over 1,000 people were sickened at the Reno Hilton Hotel as a result of sick employees on the job. The hotel did not have a paid sick-leave policy. A lawsuit filed on behalf of the outbreak victims lead to a jury awarding $25.2 million in punitive damages against the hotel, saying the hotel had acted with “malice, fraud, and oppression” in connection with the outbreak.

Marler Clark a Seattle-based law firm known for its representation of foodborne illness victims, has filed a class action lawsuit against Wyndham International on behalf of the 650 people who are believed to have become ill as a result of their exposure to Salmonella at the Wyndham Anatole. In addition to seeking compensatory damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, the victims are also seeking punitive damages.

Since 1993, Marler Clark has successfully resolved over a thousand foodborne illness matters. Marler Clark is currently lead counsel in actions resulting from E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, Norwalk Virus, or Hepatitis A outbreaks in Washington, California, Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. The partners at Marler Clark also speak frequently on issues of safe food and have formed OutBreak, Inc., a non-profit business dedicated to training companies on how to avoid foodborne diseases. For more information about Salmonella, please see the Marler Clark Web site about Salmonella.

More about the Wyndham hotel Salmonella outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.