Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pavilion, Folklorama sued

Woman infected with E. coli says she isn't able to work

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One of the individuals hospitalized following an E. coli outbreak at Folklorama two years ago is suing the organization and the Russian Pavilion.

Trudy Andrew, 52, of Oakbank, is seeking damages for lost wages and pain and suffering she endured after eating contaminated food at the Russian Pavilion.

"If I hadn't gone to the hospital when I did, I wouldn't have made it," Andrew told the Free Press. "I ended up seriously ill and in hospital."

Andrew is suing Folklorama Inc., the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg Inc., the umbrella organization that oversees the popular two-week Folklorama festival and the Russian Pavilion, which health authorities identified as the source of the outbreak.

There were 40 reported cases of E. coli between Aug. 9 and Aug. 30, 2010; 34 of those cases were individuals who ate at the pavilion, and three others were children at a daycare who were infected by a person who visited the pavilion and spread the germ.

Seventeen people went to emergency and five individuals were hospitalized, including a two-year-old boy who suffered acute renal failure and was put on dialysis in pediatric intensive care.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority concluded a locally made juice, known as kompot, was the source of the outbreak, speculating the juice had somehow come into contact with contaminated ground beef.

Health inspectors had found deficiencies in the pavilion's kitchen on Aug. 1, the first day the venue opened, including improperly stored raw hamburger meat and a fridge with an operating temperature that was deemed too high.

Statements of defence have not been filed. Spokeswomen for Folklorama and the Russian Pavilion said they were not aware of the lawsuit.

Sofia Barklon, co-ordinator of the Russian Pavilion, maintains the pavilion was not the source of the outbreak -- the position it took two years ago, despite the findings of the WRHA.

Barklon said the Russian Pavilion could not be blamed for faulty refrigeration equipment at the community centre where it sets up its pavilion, adding its food handlers comply with all health regulations.

Barklon said the only change at the Russian Pavilion as a result of the E. coli outbreak has been it no longer deals with ground beef in food preparation.

In the statement of claim filed in Queen's Bench, Andrew states she and her adult son visited the Russian Pavilion on Aug. 3, 2010, when most of the others were also infected.

Andrew said her son had a minor reaction but did not require hospitalization.

She said she was hospitalized for eight days and her suffering included severe damage to her intestinal tract, high blood pressure and high fever.

Andrew, who is a self-employed trucker and novelist, states she has not been able to work as a result of the infection and she continues to suffer.

Andrew told the Free Press she had driven gravel trucks locally since the age of 18, but following her release from hospital, she's been unable to drive.

"I haven't been able to drive truck ever since because, to be blunt, my mornings I'm trapped by the toilet," Andrew said. "It made me hyper-sensitive to everything I eat."

Andrew said she used to lead an active lifestyle, including horseback riding daily and frequent trips to Europe to research her novels.

"Everything I do now I have to plan around this problem I have," Andrew said.

Without a regular source of income, Andrew said, she's been unable to research her novels. She had published five novels before her illness, she said. She described the novels as adventure/romances about the worldly adventures of a young Manitoban. The titles include Irish Rain, Faeriedust Dreams and Mist of Eire.

Andrew said she considers Folklorama a wonderful event but added she has not been back.

Debra Zoerb, executive director of Folklorama, said she would not comment on the legal action but said it was the only one stemming from the E. Coli outbreak two years ago.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 14, 2012 B1

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