Nine others join lawsuit against River Drifters restaurant

Nine others join lawsuit against River Drifters restaurant

September 25th, 2018 by Zack Peterson in Local Regional News

River Drifters is seen on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The restaurant reopened after a breakout of illness forced it to close earlier this month.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

River Drifters is seen on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The restaurant reopened after a breakout of illness forced it to close earlier this month.

River Drifters is seen on Tuesday, Aug. 28,...

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

Nine other people joined a lawsuit Tuesday against River Drifters Bar & Grill in connection with contaminated drinking water that led to more than 100 reported illnesses.

Eric Rogers, Timothy Barnett, David Broome, Joan Broome, Barry Condra, Timothy Hargiss, J.M. Pearson, M.E. Pearson and Amanda Willis joined Tina Rogers in her Aug. 15 lawsuit in Hamilton County Circuit Court, which alleges the restaurant drew water from a private well without the Health Department's knowledge. Attorneys Bo Hixson and Rhett Hixson say the collective plaintiffs ate at River Drifters on or around Aug. 4, experienced "significant gastrological illnesses" and received medical treatment and "were even hospitalized" as a result.

The Times Free Press previously reported on a total of 105 people reporting illness to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department after eating at the restaraunt on Suck Creek Road. Ninety-five of those who reported getting sick were patrons and 10 were employees, including the owners, Charlie and Renee Eich. They believe the illness was caused when the well collapsed.

"Plaintiffs seek to represent a class defined as follows," Bo Hixson wrote in the suit, "all patrons of the restaurant who became ill or suffered from the same or similar symptoms as plaintiffs because they drank, consumed or otherwise came into contact with defendants' nonpotable water well."

Attorney Ronald Wells, who is representing the restaurant and the property owner, said it was too early to comment on the litigation. He said he'd been served with Tuesday's amended complaint and will file a formal response in the next few weeks in Hamilton County Circuit Court.

After briefly closing, River Drifters reopened in late August. In a Facebook post, the Eichs said the business had received a perfect score on its health inspection and was welcoming guests back.

"I'm not surprised but disappointed," Charlie Eich previously told the Times Free Press, when first sued. "When something like this happens it brings out the best and worst in people. I'm thankful for the outpouring and support we've received from our friends, family and the community."

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.


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