A barbecue place identified as ground zero for a salmonella outbreak that left 280 people sick and one dead in June is again open for business.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services declared the outbreak over early last month. That followed the passing of two possible incubation periods without any new illnesses being reported. That does not mean the facility’s problems are over, however.
Six personal injury suits and one for wrongful death have been filed against the owners of Tarheel Q in Lexington since the outbreak happened.
According to documents filed in the wrongful death action, state health officials have yet to identify what caused the infection. But the paperwork notes that the restaurant had been cited many times in recent years for not keeping foods at proper temperatures, employee hygiene and issues related to sanitation.
The suit is being pursued on behalf of a 94-year-old man who went to eat at the restaurant June 16. Within several days he fell ill and went to the hospital where he tested positive for salmonella infection. The widower eventually died on June 27. The suit cites the cause of death as being due to Salmonella gastroenteritis.
The man’s family is seeking compensation for his suffering and punitive damages on claims of products liability and wrongful death.
When anyone steps out for a bite at a restaurant, the rightful expectation is that they will be safe. But if this case is any indication, there is no way to be sure. That does not mean that operators of food establishments can’t be held accountable, especially when the result is a death that could have been prevented.
Where trust has been breached, working with an experienced attorney to pursue compensation is one legitimate response.