Local News

Salmonella cases from Fayetteville hotel rise to 99; two victims sue

Posted May 29, 2013

— Two women who were infected with salmonella after eating at a Fayetteville hotel have filed lawsuits in Cumberland County District Court. Meanwhile, the number of people infected in the outbreak has grown to 99, county health officials said Wednesday.

At least five people, including one of the plaintiffs, were hospitalized.

Tara Foster and Lucille Thompson both filed lawsuits Tuesday through Seattle-based legal firm Marler Clark, LLP, which specializes in foodborne illness cases. They are each seeking more than $10,000 from Aroma Hotels LLC, which operates the Holiday Inn Bordeaux, at 1701 Owen Drive in Fayetteville.

The hotel has two restaurants – All American Sports Bar and Grill and The Café Bordeaux – as well as a banquet kitchen.

Foster, who ate at The Cafe Bordeaux on May 8 and 9, began experiencing symptoms May 10, the lawsuit states. Over the next three days, she was ill with abdominal cramps, diarrhea, body aches, headaches, dehydration, heart palpitations, hypersensitivity to light and touch and other gastrointestinal problems.

She went to the emergency room May 13 and was diagnosed with salmonella infection.

Thompson ate at The Cafe Bordeaux on May 9 and began feeling sick about 24 hours later, according to the lawsuit. She also experienced abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, dehydration, hypersensitivity to light and touch and gastrointestinal problems.

The lawsuit says she was given antibiotics May 12 but continues to experience some symptoms.

Bill Marler Lawyer: Salmonella infections made clients 'incredibly miserable'

Both lawsuits allege that the hotel "manufactured, distributed or sold a food product that was adulterated, not fit for human consumption" and that they failed to properly train and supervise kitchen staff in safe food handling procedures.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for loss of wages, medical expenses, travel expenses, emotional distress and physical pain.

Holiday Inn Bordeaux CEO Scooter Deal said the health department's investigation remains active, but the hotel has been cleared to continue doing business. He said employees are getting additional training in proper food handling techniques with some help from the health department.

More than a dozen hotel employees were among the infected. 

Health department officials said Wednesday that they are still investigating the source of the contamination. 

Cumberland County Health Director Buck Wilson said "control measures put in place to prevent further spread of the illness appear to be working."

Salmonella bacteria are transmitted through contaminated food or water or contact with an infected animal or person.

Most infected people recover within four to seven days, but some require hospitalization and antibiotics. Frequent hand washing, especially after using the bathroom or handling food, is the best preventive measure, experts say. 

Anyone who developed symptoms after eating at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux since May 1 is asked to call the health department at 910-433-3638.

For more information, call the health department's salmonella hotline at 910-433-3824.

13 Comments

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  • taynglez Jun 4, 8:45 a.m.

    They do not handle the food safely and they do not clean the Cafe after the day has ended. I know from first hand experience. They do not train their employees how to handle food properly. You can lift the hot pans on the buffet and see moldy food growing in the stale water under the hot pans. It is surprising that this had not happened sooner to people. So sorry they have to go through this. It most definitely could have been avoided.

  • JAT May 30, 3:34 p.m.

    Gray - there is NO way to tell where you get food poisoning from unless you save and preserve the uneaten food which you probably wouldn't save because you would have thrown it away before you contracted it.

  • JAT May 30, 3:32 p.m.

    Why do people sue in cases like this? Yes, it's bad, but things happen. Would you expect people to sue you if they contracted it at your house? Or would you sue a relative? Heck no.

  • jscott13 May 30, 12:36 p.m.

    Monkeyface...for some people the flu is worse!! It just depends on the person and the complications that arise from the disease. Out of pocket medical expenses are probably already paid without a law suit. Emotional distress is the part that is very iffy and I really object to the sue-happy climate in our country today!! As for the amount, as someone else commented, it is probably dictated by the particular court and quite possibly the attorney.

  • Hatchcover May 30, 10:37 a.m.

    Could possibly had nothing to do with the employee's handling, prep, sanitation and all to do with the food source. But hey, we don't need government inspectors do we?

  • MonkeyFace May 30, 10:17 a.m.

    And might I add that this is in no way compaired to the flu!

  • MonkeyFace May 30, 10:14 a.m.

    jscott13--- you can certainly understand why they would want their medicial bills and lost wages taken care of right? I think 10k is rather cheap, and I would be surprised if their actually medicial bills by the end of this is less than 10k. Granted they probley have insurance, but still, we all know insurance doesn't cover everything. Some one seeking a quick buck would be some one suiting for a million dollars, not 10k!

  • lee0908 May 30, 9:12 a.m.

    They are seeking "more than 10,000 dollars". In NC, the courts are divided by how much $ you are seeking. Apparently they filed this in district court as that court handles matters for 10k+.

    I work in commercial liability insurance and I can tell you that we would have investigated the alleged food poisoning from KFC but it would have been exceptionally difficult to prove. Most people don't realize that you can't prove a claim just because you had some chicken nuggets and then got sick. We would look for other similar complaints from non-related customers, poor inspection results, health department complaints, and medical records etc. In this instance at Holiday Inn, OBVIOUSLY there is an issue. But it is exceptionally rare for a single person who puked up their chicken to recover from a restaurant.

  • jscott13 May 29, 7:23 p.m.

    grayboomerang...in your case I would have sued because KFC needed to return your calls and admit they had a problem. But in this case the hotel has done everything possible to remedy the situation. These people just want to make a buck. Let's suppose a worker came in with the flu and exposed everyone. Should people sue for that.

  • grayboomerang May 29, 5:20 p.m.

    Husband got Salmonella from the KFC on Strickland Road in Raleigh (now out of business)a few years back....he went through hell. I contacted KFC and they never even returned my calls/emails...if I had known of this law firm, I would have contacted them.

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