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Outbreak News

Man sues Quality Inn over illness

Ken Goods claims he got salmonella poisoning

Heather Frye, The Lewiston Morning Tribune

Saturday, April 5, 2003

A Clarkston man has filed a lawsuit against Clarkston Quality Inn alleging he became ill from salmonella after eating at a March 6 banquet at the motel's restaurant.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Asotin County Superior Court, alleges that Ken Goods fell ill on March 8, two days after dining at a banquet at Bogey's, the restaurant at the Quality Inn on Port Drive.

Goods is one of 25 Coleman Oil employees who tested positive for salmonella following a company-only Mexican food banquet at the restaurant, according to his lawyer, David Babcock of the Seattle law firm Marler Clark.

The firm has been involved in a large number of food-borne illness legal matters. In 1993, Marler Clark represented Brianne Kiner, who became ill from an outbreak of E. coli from Jack in the Box hamburgers. That suit was settled for $15.6 million.

The firm also negotiated a $12 million settlement for the five families whose children were injured after drinking E. coli-tainted apple juice from the Odwalla Juice company of California and has resolved more than 1,000 related cases.

The lawsuit states that Goods experienced intense stomach cramps, diarrhea, high fever and vomiting during the following days and was unable to remain at work. Goods began having bloody diarrhea a few days later, visited his doctor and submitted a stool sample, the complaint states.

The sample allegedly tested positive for a type of salmonella bacteria called enteritidis. The strain of salmonella is generally associated with eggs, Babcock said.

The lawsuit does not name a specific damage amount because Goods is still feeling ill, Babcock said. In some extreme cases, arthritis can be a long-term effect of salmonellosis.

What food at the banquet caused the contamination has not been determined and the matter is still under investigation, said Carmel Donohue, administrator of the Asotin County Health Department, which is conducting the investigation in conjunction with the North Central Health District in Lewiston.

Salmonella bacteria are killed by cooking. But because the infection is spread by fecal to oral contact, a food can become contaminated in a number of ways.

Babcock said he has worked on cases where fruits become infected through manure. In restaurants, undercooked eggs, meats or sometimes infected food handlers who fail to wash their hands after using the bathroom can spread the bacteria.

Other times cross contamination, where an infected food comes into contact with foods that will not be cooked, such as salad, can be the culprit.

Babcock said he didn't know what caused the illness, but such a scenario might be the case with the Quality Inn incident.

"In a case where this many people became ill, a simple undercooking seems unlikely to me," Babcock said.

Juan Caballero, environmental health director for the Asotin County Health Department, said March 19 he had conducted several thorough inspections of the Quality Inn, its restaurant and kitchen and was satisfied the restaurant is safe to eat at.

This is the first and only time a salmonella outbreak has occurred at the Clarkston Quality Inn or Bogey's.

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Frye may be contacted at hfrye@lmtribune.com

More on this outbreak: Quality Inn and Bogey's Restaurant Salmonella Outbreak

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