A mother and her son who were among the 260 people sickened by bacteria-contaminated food served by the Golden Ponds Restaurant & Party House are suing for their injuries and damages.

Attorneys Paul V. Nunes of Rochester, NY, and Bill Marler of Seattle filed the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs Natalie Woods and her son Connor Wynn against the Rochester restaurant at 500 Long Pond Road.

goldenponds_405x250Officials from the Monroe County Department of Public Health closed down the Golden Ponds after more than a fourth of its Thanksgiving Day guests became ill. An inspection revealed a walk-in refrigerator with food spills and mold, a damaged gasket preventing the door from closing, and mildew growing inside.

Health inspectors found a “very poor sanitary condition” and called for corrections to be made immediately. Later, on Dec. 5, inspectors returned and found tripe, sausage, potatoes, meatballs, Italian sausage, and Pollish sausage all stored outside the walk-in refrigerator.

Following several weeks of investigation, Monroe County officials found the bacteria Clostridium Perfringens served by Golden Pond was indeed responsible for the outbreak.

Marler, a nationally known food safety attorney, told reporters Clostridium Perfringens was the likely cause of illnesses as soon as the first diners were sickened in the hours after eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Woods and Wynn both had Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant, and suffered from stomach pain, cramping, and diarrhea by about 1 a.m. the next day. The plaintiffs are seeking damages based on strict liability, negligence and negligence per se.

They said Golden Ponds “owed a duty” to comply with statutory and regulatory provisions that pertained to their product, which was adulterated.

Monroe County health officials cleared Golden Ponds to reopen in late December. At that time owner Ralph Rinaudo told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper he had upgraded the restaurant’s kitchen, cleaned the restaurant and retrained staff in proper food-handling procedures.

John Ricci, a spokesman for the Monroe County Health Department, told the newspaper that Golden Ponds had been reinspected and found to have had a “huge turnaround.”

Editor’s Note: Bill Marler is publisher of Food Safety News.

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