Restaurant did not cause illness, jury says

April 17, 2007

A city Circuit Court jury concluded yesterday that a Baltimore man did not contract typhoid fever from eating a salad at D'Alesio's restaurant in Little Italy during a birthday party for former state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, according to attorneys involved with the case.

The decision -- after two days of deliberations -- ends an $800,000 lawsuit filed by Dennis Metz against the restaurant and its owners, Paul L. Oliver and Gene M. Raynor, a retired state and city elections official. Metz filed the suit in February 2006 and alleged that he got sick six weeks after eating at the restaurant in 2002.

Attorney William Schultz, who represented Metz, declined to comment.

Oliver said he is relieved the case is over. "Fingers have been pointed at this restaurant for a long time. There was lost confidence and lost revenue."

Metz said he got sick after eating at the Schaefer dinner, and he said in his suit that the restaurant's "unsanitary and unhealthful environment caused Metz to be infected with typhoid fever and to suffer severe physical and psychological injuries."

The Baltimore City Health Department said last year that between 1989 and 2002, D'Alesio's was cited for 38 health code violations. Health officials also said the restaurant had not been cited for any major violations between 2002 and last year.

At least one food service worker at D'Alesio's tested positive to being a typhoid carrier. The only part of the meal that worker helped prepare the night of the Schaefer dinner was the salad.

Attorneys who represented the restaurant said an expert testified that the strain carried by the worker did not match the strain that infected Metz. Buxbaum said Metz told jurors that he ate out at least four times a week, and that he started feeling sick after eating at a different restaurant.

About 20 people attended the birthday dinner; no one else got sick, Buxbaum said.

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