If the restaurant chain and the franchise operator were unwilling to consider the health of patrons, then those patrons had better look out for their own safety
Valdosta, GA (PRWEB) September 11, 2008
Five separate lawsuits were filed in the State Court of Georgia, DeKalb County, on behalf of individuals who became seriously ill with Salmonella serotype Montevideo food poisoning after consuming contaminated sandwiches purchased at an Arby's Restaurant located on North Ashley Street, in Valdosta, Georgia.
Attorneys Andrew Childers and Richard Schlueter of the Atlanta, Georgia firm of Childers, Buck & Schlueter, working with Attorney Eric H. Weinberg of New Brunswick, New Jersey, filed the five lawsuits against Arby's Restaurants; Beavers', Inc., a franchisee which operates several Arby's restaurants in Georgia and Florida; Globe Food Equipment Company, makers of the food slicer used at the Valdosta Arby's restaurants; and two additional defendants, a marketing firm and a food supplier.
The personal injury lawsuits were brought on behalf of Addie Brunston and her father Robby Brunston (case no. 08A93379-3), Phillis and Owen Lindsey (case no. 08A93377-3), Karen Diane Powell (case no. 08A93378-3), Ronald and Patricia Tucker (case no. 08A93380-3), and Lori Turner (case no.08A93381-3). All of the plaintiffs contracted Salmonella food poisoning after eating at Arby's between September and October of 2006.
"These companies had a responsibility to their customers to prevent foodborne pathogens in their food. The fact that they continued to operate their restaurant and serve patrons after being notified of a problem by the health authorities is shocking," said Mr. Weinberg. Mr. Childers expressed concern that Arby's and Beavers' had acted improperly in the face of a serious public health threat. "If the restaurant chain and the franchise operator were unwilling to consider the health of patrons, then those patrons had better look out for their own safety," he noted.
In January 2007, the same lawyers brought the first lawsuit against Arby's on behalf of another woman who was seriously injured by the outbreak.
According to the Public Health Division of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, in their report dated December 22, 2006, the outbreak caused by Salmonella contamination at Arby's extended from August 21, 2006, through November 16, 2006. Seventy-two people were infected, with 19 of the cases resulting in hospitalization. All five of the plaintiffs' Salmonella infections were incontrovertibly linked to the Arby's Salmonella outbreak.
Salmonella food poisoning results in a wide array of serious and potentially fatal side effects, including dehydration, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, persistent weakness and fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and reactive arthritis.
Young children and the elderly are most vulnerable to the complications of Salmonella food poisoning. The victims of the Arby's outbreak ranged in age from one year old to 67 years of age.
The Valdosta Arby's, which is owned and operated by Beavers', was found to contain a meat slicer manufactured by Globe. A plastic piece on the blade cover of the slicer was not properly sealed, and that allowed Salmonella bacteria to remain on the equipment for more than two months.
The food handling policies and practices of the Beavers managed Arby's store are being closely investigated and will be the subject of these lawsuits in the months to come. Whether Beavers and Arby's had proper meat cooking and storage policies in place to prevent food borne pathogens in their roast beef, is an issue in the cases. Of interest is that another Arby's, in Washington State, was the source of a separate Salmonella outbreak that was also tied to a dirty meat slicer.
Eventually, the Beavers managed Arby's restaurant in question was visited several times by county health officials during the month of October, 2006. Despite being informed that the restaurant was under investigation as a likely source of the Salmonella outbreak that had overtaken Lowndes County, managers and staff took no steps to warn customers of this fact. The dirty meat slicer was ultimately removed from the Valdosta Arby's on October 25, 2006, after a sample showed that it was contaminated with Salmonella.
"We certainly hope that Arby's and Beavers have learned something from this outbreak. So many innocent people were injured unnecessarily when they put their trust in these defendants to provide a clean and safe place to eat," Mr. Weinberg said.
For more information about the lawsuits, please contact Andy Childers at (404-419-9500) or Eric Weinberg (732-246-7080).
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