Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Spraypark claim filed

Craig Fox of the Finger Lakes Times has also reported on the spraypark claim filed. From the article:

A Rochester attorney and a nationally known Seattle law firm yesterday filed a notice of claim for a class action suit they may bring on behalf of some families who became sick after visiting the spraypark at Seneca Lake State Park.
The 4-year-old sprayground was closed Aug. 15 after about 40 people complained of a gastrointestinal illness. In subsequent weeks, reports of the outbreak grew to more than 3,869 people in 35 counties – with 612 cases confirmed.
The state Health Department determined the illness was cryptosporidiosis, caused by a microscopic parasite.
Filed with the state Attorney General’s office, the notice of claim names Rochester resident Tricia Van Putte and her two young children as plaintiffs, but Nunes and the Seattle law firm are also representing several other families.

“This is just the first step,” Nunes said Thursday, adding they had only 90 days to file this paperwork before the statutes of limitations would have run out.
Nunes said that days after their Aug. 11 visit to the spraypark, Van Putte and her two young children, Grace and Tyler, came down with diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and loss of appetite.
The attorneys will now start gathering information, conducting research and reviewing evidence before deciding whether to proceed with the lawsuit, they said.
Wendy Gibson, a spokeswoman with state parks office, said she could not comment on potential litigation.
Earlier in the week, Gibson said that the state still has not found what caused the cryptosporidium parasite to contaminate two water-holding tanks connected to the sprayground’s filtration system.
Before the notice of claim was filed Thursday, Albany attorney Don Boyajian, a partner with Dreyer Boyajian, LLP, in Albany, was already soliciting clients, saying his firm could file a class action lawsuit to sue for the pain and suffering and lost wages. Boyajian has been running ads in the Finger Lakes Times as recent as Wednesday, looking for clients.
The Seattle firm has been involved in some of the country’s most high-profile lawsuits involving food-and waterborne contamination, E. coli, hepatitis and salmonella. Its biggest case involved children who were contaminated with E. coli at several Jack In The Box restaurants on the West Coast in 1993. The family of a 12-year-old girl who was hospitalized for several months was awarded $15.6 million.
The firm has also represented several people contaminated with E. coli at a petting zoo in Florida three years ago.
In 2002, Seattle attorney Bill Marler and Nunes also worked together on a case in which more than 75 people got salmonella during a function at the Brook-Lea Country Club in Rochester.
Contacted in his Seattle office, Marler said there must have been “a design or functional flaw” in the spraypark system because the outbreak lasted several weeks and so many people got sick.
“It’s not a logical explanation” that feces from a child whose diaper was changed near the water park could have been the source of the contamination, he said.
On Aug. 26, the Health Department concluded it will rewrite regulations governing water quality at all sprayparks and will implement them by November.
But Marler contended there’s an ongoing problem with water quality in spray parks across the country, with about 170 outbreaks at a variety of water recreational venues during between 1989 and 1999.
Many sprayparks across the country have been permanently closed after outbreaks have occurred, Marler said. So far, 33 people have been hospitalized with cryptosporidiosis from the Seneca Lake spraypark outbreak, he said.
An unidentified family of four sisters, their eight children and their parents all became ill last month, and the husband of one of the women was hospitalized for three days with dehydration, Nunes said.
“It can affect people in different ways,” said Nunes, an attorney with the firm of Underberg & Kessler.