Fayetteville, N.C. — 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.
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.