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Salmonella Lawsuit Filed in Ohio

A May 2010 outbreak of salmonella in Athens, which was traced by county health authorities to a restaurant on East State Street, has now generated a wrongful-death lawsuit.

While two earlier suits filed in Athens County Common Pleas Court in connection with the outbreak have alleged only that the plaintiffs were made sick by meals they had at Casa Lopez, the latest one claims that an 82-year-old Athens woman died as a result of eating there.

The suit, due to be filed Monday by Milton Ploghoft, alleges that his wife, Zella Ploghoft, became ill the morning after she ate at Casa Lopez with her husband and son on April 30, 2010. Zella Ploghoft was taken to O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, the suit claims, where she tested positive for salmonella bacteria.

Her condition worsened, the suit alleges, leading eventually to her death June 22, 2010 in a local nursing facility. Ploghoft’s death certificate gives her probable cause of death as aspiration pneumonia, with a contributing cause of cerebral stroke; it does not mention salmonella.

The attorney whose firm is handling the case, however, said Monday that he believes the infection Ploghoft got from eating at Casa Lopez triggered a cascade of medical complications that killed her.

“This happens frequently with somebody in their 70s, 80s,” said attorney Bill Marler, of the Seattle firm Marler Clark. “They’re one of the most vulnerable populations to get a bacterial infection.”

Marler Clark, which is handling another lawsuit against Casa Lopez related to the salmonella outbreak, specializes in litigation over food-borne illness.