Seneca Lake State Park Spraypark Cryptosporidium Outbreak Lawsuit - New York (2005)

In August and September of 2005, thousands of people fell ill with cryptosporidiosis, a gastrointestinal illness that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Cryptosporidiosis is contracted through the ingestion of Cryptosporidium parvum, a parasite.

Public health officials determined that the source of the outbreak was water from the spraypark at the Seneca Lake State Park, and asked the New York Office of State Parks and Recreation to close the spraypark on August 15. By the time the public health investigation had concluded, at least 3,900 people in New York had reported becoming ill with cryptosporidiosis after taking part in recreational activities at the spraypark, which is located near Geneva. Cryptosporidium was found in two water storage tanks that supplied the 11,000-square-foot spraypark.

Marler Clark filed a class action lawsuit against the State of New York on September 13, 2005. The case is currently filed in The State of New York Court of Claims, in front of Judge Nicholas V. Midey, Jr. The plaintiffs’ motion for class certification has been granted. The litigation is presently in a “Notice” stage, where potential class members are being given the opportunity to apply to be members of the class. Issues pertaining to liability of the State of New York and potential compensation for Class members are yet to be determined.

The Court ruled that the Class would close to membership on March 31, 2008. The Court also authorized newspaper notices concerning the class action to run in certain upstate New York papers in an effort to notify additional potential class members of their right to join the class action.

Active discovery between the plaintiff class and the State included depositions of State employees involved in the design, construction, operation, and redesign of the Spray Park as well as those involved in the outbreak investigation. At the same time attorneys for the State deposed certain representative class members in order to gain further knowledge about the damages claimed. The State continues to deny that it has legal responsibility for the outbreak and the continuing discovery is intended to allow both sides to learn more about the other’s positions and contentions.

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