Marler Clark and Underberg & Kessler filed a notice of claim today against the New York Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The notice indicates the intent to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of over 3,200 people who became ill with Cryptosporidiosis after visiting the Sprayground at Seneca Lake State Park in July and August. The notice was filed on behalf of Tricia Van Putte and her two young children, who will be the named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, and who became ill with Cryptosporidium infections after visiting the Sprayground. Marler Clark and Underberg and Kessler have been retained by several other families.
The New York State Health Department shut down the Sprayground on August 15 after it was determined that the Sprayground’s water holding tanks, which were used to recycle water, were contaminated with Cryptosporidium. On August 26, the Health Department issued an update on its investigation into the outbreak, announcing that 3,297 cases of Cryptosporidium had been reported in 33 New York counties. Of those cases, 415 were confirmed cases reported to the State Health Department. Thirty-three people had been hospitalized with Cryptosporidiosis.
In 1997, 369 people, mostly children, became ill with Cryptosporidiosis after playing in a water fountain at a Minnesota zoo. In 1999, at least 38 people became ill with Cryptosporidium or Shigella infections after playing in a spray fountain at a beachside park in Florida.
“Whether they are publicly or privately operated, all water parks should have sanitation measures in place to prevent outbreaks. The majority of people who play in sprayparks and pools are children – the most vulnerable population to parasites and pathogenic bacteria,” said William Marler, managing partner of Seattle-based Marler Clark, who represented twelve of 26 children who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after visiting an Atlanta, Georgia, waterpark in 1998.
Ms. Van Putte and their two children became ill with Cryptosporidiosis days after visiting the Sprayground. Symptoms included diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, and loss of appetite. The children’s illnesses were confirmed as Cryptosporidiosis by the State Health Department.
On August 26, the Democrat & Chronicle reported that the state Health Department will rewrite regulations governing water quality at all sprayparks and will implement them on an emergency basis by November. Paul Nunes, a partner in the Rochester firm Underberg & Kessler, added, “You would think that after the Washington County Fair E. coli outbreak in 1998 there would be higher standards for all water supplies in the State of New York. It’s a shame that there had to be another outbreak to make water safety a priority.”
Together, Marler Clark and Underberg & Kessler represented 75 victims, several of them children, of the Brook-Lea County Club Salmonella outbreak of 2002. The two firms also represented two Orangeburg, NY girls who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating contaminated ground beef from BJ’s Wholesale Club in 2002. For more information on Cryptosporidium, see