Salmonella trials will stay separate |

Salmonella trials will stay separate

Susan Cunningham

Two civil complaints filed against BLT Restaurants, LLC, over a food-poisoning incident have been scheduled for trial in July.

The plaintiffs in the cases discussed holding the trials jointly in a phone conference with District Judge Michael O’Hara on Monday but ultimately decided to keep the trials separate.

The complaints stem from a Salmonella outbreak between Dec. 13, 2002, and Jan. 4, 2003, at Seasons at the Pond, 425 Lincoln Ave., now know as Coyote Springs and owned by BLT Restaurants.

A total of 51 cases of illness were identified in connection with the outbreak, according to a report by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Of those, 26 tested positive for Salmonella Newport.

Steamboat Springs resident Robert Morris and Craig resident Tracy Sheldon individually have filed complaints against BLT Restaurants with claims such as negligence and strict liability.

BLT Restaurants, through its attorney, Craig Cain, denied the allegations, arguing other food distributors may have been responsible for the outbreak.

Morris ate at Seasons at the Pond on Dec. 24, 2002, then became “gravely ill” and was admitted to Yampa Valley Medical Center, according to the lawsuit filed in July. There he learned he was infected with Salmonella, according to the complaint filed by Michele Desoer, Morris’ attorney.

In his complaint, Morris alleges his medical and hospital bills were more than $1,000, that he could not work for several weeks and that he suffered from ongoing symptoms.

Tracy Sheldon ate at Seasons at the Pond on Dec. 17, 2003, then became sick Jan. 1 and was taken to the emergency room and hospitalized for four days, according to the complaint filed by Sheldon’s attorney Judith Tartaglia on Aug. 11, 2003. Sheldon also learned she was infected with Salmonella, according to court documents.

Sheldon estimated her total damages from the illness were $200,000, including pain and suffering, and specified her medical bills to date cost more than $6,500.

In January, Cain filed a notice saying U.S. Food Services and Nobel-Sysco Food Services may have at least contributed to the outbreak because both companies provided fruit for the restaurants at the time of the outbreak. The plaintiffs’ attorneys objected, saying the notice was untimely.

Seattle attorney David Babcock is serving as co-counsel for each plaintiff.

Sheldon’s case is to begin July 6. Morris’ case is to begin July 15.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail

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