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Salmonella Outbreak Prompts Local Lawsuit


January 23, 2003

The Brook Lea Country Club in Gates is facing a lawsuit by 70 victims of salmonella, contracted after eating at the country club's restaurant last summer.

Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has handled high-profile food poisoning cases, is representing the clients.

According to a press release from Marler Clark, the lawsuit claims that Brook-Lea management had a duty to notify health authorities and the public when it found that patrons and workers got sick, but that Brook Lea failed to do so.

Bruce Clark, the lead attorney in the case, says about Brook-Lea that "it appears they sat on important information about the health of their food workers, and that allowed the outbreak to grow considerably." He says they did not inform public health authorities right away.

Clark says his information is based on what was gathered by the Monroe County health department, when it was probing why over 100 people got sick by Salmonella poisoning.

The suit seeks medical expenses, lost wages and punitive damages. Bruce Clark tells News 8 that dollar amounts being sought range from $10,000 to $100,000 per person.

This is not a class action suit. They are representing 70 individuals who had differing degrees of illness. Clark says as far as he knows, this is the first suit filed over the June & July 2003 outbreaks.

Clark says he met with Brook Lea's insurance company just before Christmas to seek a settlement before the suit was filed, but that the meeting yielded no results. He says the attitude of the people from OneBeacon was "sobering and disappointing".

In the press release, Clark states his clients "went through awful experiences which...are made worse by the realization that this outbreak was preventable."

One-hundred and six people were diagnosed with salmonella last June and July, after eating at the restaurant at the country club.

OneBeacon Insurance, based in Rochester, does not have any comment on the suit. Management at Brook-Lea could not be reached.

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