North New Jersey is reporting that a wrongful death claim has been filed against a golf and tennis club over a deadly outbreak of hepatitis (https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/morris/2019/10/01/mendham-hepatitis-outbreak-leads-wrongful-death-suit/3820833002/).
The family of Dorothy Del Guercio, the 82-year-old victim, has filed a claim in connection with her death from Hepatitis A back in August. This type of hepatitis is found in stool and can be spread by ingesting fecal matter. When infected people fail to properly wash their hands before handling food and after using the bathroom, they can transfer the virus to people who then consume the contaminated food. The hepatitis A virus can cause a very contagious liver infection, and this infection can end up leading to liver failure. Hepatitis A can also cause fatigue, fever, abdominal issues, jaundice, and pain in joints.
Near the end of June, Del Guercio and her husband Ernest dined at the Mendham Golf and Tennis Club, a private country club in the Township of Mendham in New Jersey. She fell ill shortly thereafter with severe symptoms and was hospitalized, ultimately succumbing to the illness less than two months later. In August, New Jersey state health officials reported that the Hepatitis A outbreak at the club made 27 people ill in total, and it was traced back to an employee who was infected and handled food that was served at the club in the month of June.
The complaint, which was filed in Bergen County Superior Court by Del Guercio’s son — who is also acting as the executor of her estate — alleges that the club was reckless and negligent and that negligence led to the suffering, pain, and death of Del Guercio.
Both her husband and son maintain that the club failed to store, handle, and prepare food properly. It did not supervise its employees adequately nor did the employees follow sanitary procedures in their kitchen. The family also believes that the Mendham Golf and Tennis Club knew about the employee’s infection but did not provide any warning to its members about the potential for exposure when they ate there.
State health officials say the diagnosis of the infected employee was not reported to the proper channels until July 2. On July 25, county health department officials did inspect the food operations at the club, and they found that the club was in compliance with rules regarding glove use and hand hygiene at that time.
Employees were asked by health officials to clean common surfaces, restrooms, and doorknobs more often, and the employees were given more instructions on hygiene, food safety, and storage. Club staff also attended a class focused on proper food handling in early August that emphasized how important hand washing is. The club’s manager, Joe Kelly, declined to comment on the case.
Unfortunately, when people do not take safety seriously, others may suffer. If you have lost a loved one because someone else behaved negligently or recklessly, you have rights. Contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer in Denver, CO, about what happened as soon as you can.
Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into what a wrongful death lawsuit can look like.