The Associated Press reported today that two dozen families have dropped their lawsuit against Lane County and the county fair board. The families filed suit in June 2003, almost a year after 82 people, mostly children, got sick from exposure to the bacteria at the county fair.
The families abandoned the suit because experts could not show how the county or fair could have prevented the outbreak.
From the article:
One of the plaintiffs, Bill Walter of Eugene, said he was disappointed in how the case ended.
“It’s hard to imagine when you have an event and invite people into your event and 80 people get sick, that there’s no culpability,” Walter said.
His daughter, Carson, then 2, spent 31 days in a Portland hospital and underwent 17 rounds of dialysis to filter toxins and excess water from her blood. Now 4, she’s healthy but has permanent damage that likely will require a kidney transplant in her late teens or early 20s, the girl’s father said.
“And hopefully this will educate people that there’s some inherent danger in taking real small kids to an environment like that.”
Public health investigators traced the fair outbreak to the sheep and goat exposition hall on the south side of the Lane County fairgrounds, but they could not determine exactly how people became infected.
In response to the outbreak, the fair erected portable hand-washing stations at all barn entrances and put up signs urging visitors to wash their hands after touching animals and before eating. Among other precautions, officials also warned visitors to make sure children don’t put their hands in their mouths after touching animals, animal pens, the floor or the bottom of their shoes if they walk through animal areas.