Golden Ponds: Lawsuits proceed 2 years after 306 sickened in Rochester’s worst food poisoning outbreak

On Thanksgiving Day in 2016, as many as 1,100 people ate their holiday dinner at Golden Ponds Restaurant and Party House, which was located just up Long Pond Road from the Greece Town Hall in Rochester, N.Y.

Within 24 hours, patrons began to experience stomach pain, cramping and diarrhea. Some were hospitalized and at least one underwent emergency surgery.

Eventually, 306 people who dined at Golden Ponds that day reported they had been sickened by the food, officials at the Monroe County Department of Public Health now say.

A public-health investigation later determined that the pernicious Clostridium perfringens bacteria that made people ill was in gravy that had been stored and served at an unacceptably low temperature.

“Rest assured there are a significant number of people who will never think of Thanksgiving the same way,” said Paul Vincent Nunes, a Rochester lawyer who has brought lawsuits against the defunct Greece restaurant. 

According to Steve Orr of the Democrat and Chronicle, here’s what’s happened since:

Golden Ponds is closed. The establishment at 500 Long Pond Road, which had been operated by Ralph Rinaudo for 33 years, was closed by the health department after the food poisoning episode. Improvements were made and the restaurant was allowed to open in late December. But business was predictably slow, and it closed for good in February 2017.

Rinaudo sold the property in January of this year to a corporation that shares the address of a Henrietta construction firm, Team FSI General Contractors. The building appears to be empty at present and future use of the property isn’t clear. Officials at FSI did not respond to a request for comment.

The health department has continued its practice of inspecting every restaurant once a year. It has not stepped up inspections of buffet-style eateries like Golden Ponds, spokesman Ryan Horey said. Inability to maintain food at the proper temperatures during buffet serving was key  factor in the Golden Ponds incident. The Democrat and Chronicle checked inspection records available on for six Rochester-area buffet restaurants. Five of them have been cited by the health departments for serious violations involving foods being kept at the wrong temperature since the Golden Ponds episode.

Four lawsuits filed on behalf of 31 plaintiffs are pending against Golden Ponds. The four were consolidated into one case in July. Court-ordered mediation to seek a resolution before trial is set to begin soon. The cases are not suited for class-action status, as the damages incurred differed from one patron to the next, Nunes said.

Nunes said, “These were not just tummy aches. People were quite sick, some in the hospital. These are life-threatening events.”

Corned beef and pastrami with poop: New York deli flooded with ‘fecal matter’ due to bad pipes, suit says

Maya Rajamani of DNA Info reports the basement of the Stage Door Deli & Restaurant was deluged with “sewage and fecal matter” after the building’s owner failed to inspect and maintain the eatery’s pipes, a new lawsuit charges.

The restaurant at 360 Ninth Ave., between West 30th and 31st streets, was no longer able to use its basement after the pipes connecting to the city’s main utility lines broke on July 30, 2016, the suit filed against the landlord Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court claims.

Building owner 30th Street and 9th Avenue Enterprises LLC was supposed to inspect and maintain the pipes but failed to do so, the suit notes.

The diner, known for the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches it has served for the past 17 years, moved into the Ninth Avenue space after a rent hike forced it out of its longtime home across from Penn Station in 2015.

When the pipes broke last year, “sewage and fecal matter” seeped into the basement, “causing both substantial health concerns and damage to food products, food supplies and food preparation areas,” the complaint says.


Food fraud: Gluten-free BS in Ireland because health and legal concern

Partner Amy is gluten intolerant and has gone through a battery of increasingly valid tests to prove the point.

gluten_free_bison_2It’s a pain to shop for her and make meals, but she tolerates me, so there’s some angelic halo hovering above her poofy hair.

Irish food manufacturer Largo, whose products include Tayto, has admitted it sold crisps containing a high amount of gluten in a packet that was supposed to be gluten-free.

The company has pleaded guilty to breaching food safety regulations – a criminal offence.

Luke Byrne of reports that in May last year, a mother from Arklow, Co Wicklow, bought a 50g packet of O’Donnell’s mature Irish cheese and onion, gluten-free crisps for her 10-year-old son.

However, she noticed he was beginning to suffer a reaction to the crisps when his ears started turning red.

The mother complained to the company and the HSE subsequently brought a case against the food manufacturer.

Judge Grainne Malone said that the case was “a very serious matter” and the court was told the maximum penalty on indictment in the circuit court was a €500,000 fine and/or three years in prison.

However, the judge accepted jurisdiction of the district court in the case.

Giving evidence, HSE environmental health officer Caitriona Sheridan said that, in order for a product to be labelled gluten-free, it was required to have a gluten content of less than 20 parts-per-milligram.

tayto-gluten-freeWhen the crisps that were the subject of the complaint were tested, they were found to have more than 700ppmg.

A second control sample of the product was also taken, which lab tests found had more than 100ppmg of gluten.

Two other complaints were made about the presence of gluten in the gluten-free products. The company decided not to send out two pallets of products, identified as containing the incorrect crisps.

Counsel for the company, Andrew Whelan, told the court the issue was identified as a malfunction in the line.

“My client’s response to this had been ‘hands up’,” he said.

Mr Whelan told the court that Largo, which the court was told has an annual turnover of €90m, had spent €100,000 to remedy the problem and gluten-fee products were now packaged in a “totally segregated” production area.

Shouldn’t this have happened before?

Dole and Listeria: The Shaggy Defense

Dole’s Springfield plant, source of an awful outbreak of listeriosis linked to over 30 illnesses and four deaths, had resident Listeria monocytogenes problem. With illnesses stretching back to July 2015, linked through whole genome sequencing, the pathogen was hanging out somewhere.

The Packer reports that Dole is disputing a couple of lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of victims.

A suit filed in July for the estate of Ellen DiStefano alleges Dole failed to design and implement a food safety program capable of preventing listeria contamination of its salad mixes.

Listeria was found eight times in the Springfield plant from March 2014 to December 2015, according to a Food and Drug Administration report cited in court documents. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, also claims Dole did not use newer detection technologies such as genome sequencing.

DiStefano became ill Jan. 17 and died Feb. 27. She was 79.

“The product was not defective at the time it left Dole’s custody and control,” attorney R. Leland Evans said July 15 in the court record. “Any later defect was caused by a substantial alteration and change in the condition of the product by other parties over whom Dole had no control.”

Show me the data.


Really, it wasn’t us: Leafy green cone of silence, Dole version

As early as 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had evidence that Listeria was circulating in Dole’s Springfield, Ohio plant, which bags lettuce and other supposedly healthy meals.

spongebob.oil.colbert.may3.10It took 18 months before Dole shut down and issued a recall.

FDA figures Four people died and 33 were sickened in Canada and the U.S. from Listeria in the Dole products.

Last week, attorneys for Dole denied responsibility in a wrongful death lawsuit linked to a listeria outbreak that has since been tied to its Springfield plant.

The Dole legal thingies argued its product was not defective when it left the company’s Listeria-positive facility.

“Any later defect was caused by a substantial alteration and change in the condition of the product by other parties over whom Dole had no control,” the company’s response states.

The most recent case was filed when Ellen H. DiStefano, 79, of Franklin County, became ill on Jan. 17 after eating a salad she bought in Belmont County that was packaged in Springfield, according to the complaint. She was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with an infection caused by the listeria monocytogenes bacteria and died on Feb. 27, the complaint states.

The case is one of two civil lawsuits pending against the Springfield manufacturer. The company has also denied responsibility for an incident in which a Warren County woman said her mother was left in a coma after eating salad tainted with listeria. That case is also pending in U.S. District Court.

Given that level of legal swarminess, I wouldn’t touch the stuf.

Salmonella class action filed in Israeli court

The Health Ministry ruled today (Sunday) that the “Hanasich” tehina company will no longer be allowed to manufacture or distribute its products until further notice, after its raw tehina was found to be infected with Salmonella, leading to a recall of many products containing Hanasich tehina.

shamir-salads-false-label“Hanasich tehina company has conducted itself in a negligent, irresponsible, unfitting, and unprofessional manner,” the Health Ministry ruling read.

The Ministry ordered the company to destroy all the Salmonella-infected tehina stock.

Meanwhile, a request for approval for a class action suit against Shamir Salads, Prince Tehina, and the Shufersal Ltd. (TASE:SAE) and Yohananoff retail chains was filed today (Sunday) at the Lod District Court, following the recent contamination of Tehina with salmonella. The request demands financial compensation of over NIS 6.7 billion, NIS 1,000 per suitor.

The suit was filed through advocates Assaf Noy, David Or Hen, Yossi Greiber and Yitzhak Or and includes a demand for compensation for Israeli consumers “who feel anxious about their own health and the health of their children, anger, uncertainty, and disgust at eating the products of the respondents, suspected of salmonella bacteria contamination.”

The lawsuit claims that Shamir Salads or Prince Tehina had been negligent in not conducting lab tests on their products, while Prince had also concealed information from its customers.

Lawsuit filed over 2014 Salmonella outbreak

Outbreaks cost businesses a lot: loss of reputation; bad publicity; fines, and legal woes.

According to FOX 32, two separate lawsuits have been filed following a 2014 cluster of Salmonella associated with Urban Esencia Kitchen.71d3dd3d33a2a5f586a6e98c0e7089c2

Nathan Sanders and Sara Lindsay claim in one suit that they ate at Urban Esencia Kitchen on Aug. 14, 2014. The following day, they began to suffer severe stomach cramps, chills and fever; and could not eat. Both received extensive medical treatment over the next several days and Lindsay tested positive for Salmonella, according to the suit.

Hunter Lehr claims he contracted salmonella after eating at the restaurant on August 13, 2014. The next day, Lehr began to suffer severe the same symptoms and coud not eat. He was admitted to the hospital for one week and tested positive for salmonella, the suit stated.

Each 3-count suit charges the restaurant with negligence, strict liability, and breach of implied warranty; and seeks a minimum of $90,000 in damages.

$1.6 M lawsuit claims Calgary siblings infected with E. coli after eating at Vietnamese restaurant

Kevin Martin of the Calgary Herald reports a $1.6-million lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Calgary brother and sister who were infected with E. coli, allegedly from eating tainted food at a Vietnamese restaurant.

Chi Lan Vietnamese RestaurantThe lawsuit filed on behalf of minors Hunter and Julia Aloisio said both were infected with E. coli after dining at the Chi Lan Vietnamese Restaurant on July 31, 2014.

It says Hunter Aloisio was impacted most by the infection, developing hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The boy required dialysis to treat the illness and is now susceptible to kidney failure, the lawsuit says.

The claim names the restaurant, as well as its suppliers and “upstream defendants,” unidentified companies “involved in the livestock slaughter and dressing industry, the farming industry and/or the secondary processing industry.”

“The defendants were negligent and breached the standard of care owed to the plaintiffs,” the statement of claim filed on behalf of the siblings says.

“The defendants owed the plaintiffs a duty of care to ensure that their products, including the restaurant food, were safe for consumption and would not expose the plaintiffs to contaminants such as E. coli bacteria,” it says.

Fig & Olive settles majority of Salmonella cases

In the summer of 2015, some 150 people were stricken with Salmonella at uppity Fig and Olive restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

fig.oliveJessica Sidman of the Washington City Paper, reports Fig & Olive has settled at least 48 cases involving diners in D.C., L.A., and New York who got sick from a salmonella outbreak at the upscale restaurant chain last fall, according to attorney Bill Marler. The Seattle-based foodborne illness lawyer, who represented the majority of the victims, says only four cases—all in California—are unresolved. Twenty four of those who received settlements—not all of whom actually filed lawsuits—were from the D.C.-area, Marler says.

The unsettled cases involve people who “were more significantly injured,” Marler says. “They’re people who were hospitalized for some period of time.” He says one woman who got sick after eating at the West Hollywood location has developed reactive arthritis, also known as Reiter’s syndrome, which can result after a salmonella infection. “It’s pretty devastating. She’s a 19-year-old with one knee that’s the size of a volleyball, and she has had it drained repeatedly,” Marler says.

Fig & Olive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Marler says he’s hoping to resolve the remaining cases in mediation. “And if that doesn’t work, then the cases will go forward through the court system.”

The size of the settlements is confidential, but Marler says “the results were fair.” Some D.C. victims sought as much as $500,000 plus fees in their lawsuits.

“Nobody likes being that sick, but I think the settlement results took that all into account,” Marler says.

The salmonella outbreak shutdown the CityCenter, DC location for six days last September. The Food and Drug Administration and local health authorities never definitively determined the exact source of the salmonella, but truffle mushroom croquettes were a common denominator among Fig & Olive diners who got sick. Components of the dish were pre-prepared at a Long Island City commissary that supplied Fig & Olive’s restaurants around the country with already-made sauces, dressings, and more, and has since been closed.

Food fraud: Is that octopus in a can or squid

Jonathan Stempel of Seafood News reports, a new lawsuit accuses Goya Foods Inc of cheating consumers by selling canned octopus products that actually contain cheaper, lower quality jumbo squid.

Goya canned octopus in garlic sauce“Independent DNA testing” confirmed that the largest Hispanic-owned U.S. food company made the switch, according to a complaint filed late Wednesday in the federal court in San Jose, California. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 million of damages.

Goya, based in Jersey City, New Jersey, did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

The plaintiff Luis Diego Zapata Fonseca, of Salinas, California, sued on behalf of purchasers nationwide and in California of Goya canned octopus in garlic sauce, hot sauce, pickled sauce or olive oil.

According to the complaint, both fish have similar textures, making it hard for people to tell them apart, especially when they are bathed in sauce.

But while octopus prices have risen because of overfishing, jumbo squid are thriving, and they adapt easily to changing ocean conditions caused by global warming, the complaint said.