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Oak Grove Restaurant Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuit

In May 2016 state and local public health officials in Ohio investigated a foodborne illness outbreak among customers of Oak Grove Eatery, a restaurant located in Wooster. A total of 29 ill cases were identified. Seventeen cases were laboratory confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. One person who was culture positive for Salmonella acquired their infection secondarily through contact with an ill Oak Grove Eatery patron. Two of the ill cases were employees of the restaurant. Seven patients were hospitalized. No one died. The first meal date identified by ill customers was May 4. The last meal date reported by an ill customer was May 17. Dates of onset of illness coincided with meal dates, May 4 through May 17. The median incubation period (i.e., the time from exposure to symptom onset) was 16 hours with a range of 10 to 30 hours. Ill cases resided in several counties in Ohio (Wayne, Ashland, Franklin, Knox, Lorain and Medina) as well as in Indiana and Maine. A case control study was conducted. Statistical analysis of foods consumed strongly implicated hollandaise sauce as the contaminated food item, (Relative risk 9.47; 95% confidence interval 1.4-4.61, p-value 0.0000095).

On May 11 Wayne County Environmental Health staff, Vaughn Anderson and Steve Rich, met with Eric Lloyd, owner of the Oak Grove Eatery. Mr. Lloyd had contacted the health department after learning that an employee was laboratory confirmed with Salmonella. He voluntarily closed the restaurant. Although no critical violations were noted at the facility, investigators learned that raw shell eggs were used as an ingredient in the hollandaise sauce. There were two possible egg suppliers, Sauder’s Amish Country Eggs or Marcus Ladrach’s Farm. A sample of leftover egg mix containing the suspect eggs was collected for laboratory testing at the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory. Test results were negative for Salmonella. Vaughn Anderson returned to Oak Grove Eatery for a final inspection on May 23. Perishable food items that had expired, were moldy or spoiled were discarded. The restaurant reopened on May 24. Eric Lloyd agreed to use pasteurized eggs for hollandaise sauce in the future.

Marler Clark represented Michelle Dukich and her son Christopher who were affected by the outbreak. Attorneys at Marler Clark reached a settlement covering medical expenses, wage loss, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering.

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