August 15, 2002
Gates, NY - Some of the victims who got sick after eating at Brook-Lea country club in early June are now describing what they went through. They said they couldn't eat, and some said they couldn't move for days after being sickened with salmonella poisoning.
At first, Dave Cicoria said, the food was great.
"It was the best meal I've had at a Party House in a long time," he said.
Then two days after attending a wedding reception at the Brook-Lea, he got sick. He eventually lost 12 pounds and missed three weeks from work.
"I never had anything like this before. It was the worst feeling, I felt like I was totally lifeless. I couldn't move, I couldn't function, I couldn't even think straight," he said.
What's ironic is that food safety is Dave's business as manager of the seafood department at Wegmans.
Dave is one of nearly 100 people who got sick after eating at Brook-Lea Country Club in early June. There have been three new cases of salmonella bacteria since then. Those are being investigated by both Police and the Health Department to see if there was any deliberate contamination.
Jim Sapienza said he feels better now, but the illness has left him afraid to eat out.
"I don't want to feel that I have to look at people working in restaurants and judge whether or not I think they're clean," he said.
Sam Rex said he'll never eat there again. Both Sam and his 9-year-old daughter got sick. She ended up in the hospital.
"My daughter was so sick we had to had her in the hospital having surgeries--it shouldn't happen," he said.
The victims have hired attorneys and are seeking compensation from brook lea.
Victims said they don't want to sue the country club or damage its name, but they believe something must be done so this doesn't happen again.
"Somebody's got to be held accountable for the basic hygiene steps that were not taken." Rex said.
The victims are asking for compensation for, lost wages, medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering.
Attorney Bruce Clark is handling the case. His firm, based in Seattle, represented the victims of the 1993 E. coli outbreak that killed four children and injured 500 people.
"This is a familiar story--a lot of people made very sick unnecessarily probably because of a breakdown of fundamental food safety practices."
Lawyers from the Underberg-Kessler firm in Rochester are also working on this case. On Thursday, they met with Brook-Lea's insurance company to discuss a possible settlement.
Brook-Lea had no comment on the possible legal action or settlement negotiations.
The county club's kitchen remains closed. The country club is using outside caterers to prepare food at events like its annual invitational golf tournament this week.