Professor sues Casa Lopez over wife's death

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The wrongful death case of an Athens woman who reportedly died from salmonella poisoning is set to go to trial in mid-October, according to the family’s legal representatives. The elderly woman allegedly developed a salmonella infection after eating at a restaurant called Casa Lopez, according to official documents.

The woman’s husband, an esteemed professor at The Ohio University, filed the suit in June 2011 after his wife died in May 2010 in a salmonella outbreak that swept through Athens County. Public health officials have determined that the bacteria likely originated at Casa Lopez and eventually affected about 50 people in the area.

No other reports of salmonella poisoning have surfaced in connection with the restaurant since the 2010 incidents.

The woman was reportedly hospitalized after eating at the restaurant in April 2010. She developed salmonellosis, and she died about three weeks after first seeking medical care. Her death was reportedly caused by pneumonia and cerebral stroke, and salmonella was not listed on the death certificate. Attorneys for the family argue that the salmonella infection caused a chain reaction of medical complications that eventually led to the woman’s death.

Restaurant owners say they are fighting the claim, which states that management was negligent in serving contaminated food to customers. Defense attorneys contend that the woman did not die from salmonellosis, as evidenced by her death certificate, and so no liability exists.

The case is on track to meet the Oct. 16 court date, according to representatives from both sides of the courtroom. Attorneys say that a settlement offer has been presented to the plaintiff, and informal discussions have ensued about whether that will be considered as an option. Both sides are willing to negotiate in the case. It is not clear exactly how much compensation the man is seeking in connection with the death of his wife.

If a settlement is not reached, a three-day trial will ensue, which will be heard by a jury of eight.

Source: The Athens News, “Suit over alleged salmonella-related death heading for trial in October,” Jim Phillips, Sept. 12, 2012