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Suit claims barbecue at Vinoy made conference attendees sick

in Local Courts by

A conference last year at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club resulted in nearly 20 people falling ill, according to a lawsuit filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court.

In April 2013, Swarovski, a privately-held Austrian company known for premium crystals, jewelry and other accessories, held a conference at the Vinoy, the historic, 361-room hotel located on the St. Petersburg waterfront. Managed by Marriott, the hotel is owned by Texas-based FelCor Lodging Trust.

Judy Beauparlant, who flew in from her home in Canada to attend the event, was among the Swarovski employees at the conference.

An outdoor barbecue, held on the last day of the event, allegedly left Beauparlant and at least 18 other employees ill. Several days after the conference, she suffered from “acute and significant abdominal pain, inability to urinate and difficulty walking.”

Beauparlant claims her illness forced her to undergo surgery, resulting in her hospitalization for diverticulitis, Salmonella and a ruptured bowel.

In the suit filed Jan. 12, Beauparlant says the food at the barbecue included dairy-based items, shellfish and meats. She alleges those items were left outside for an “extended period of time,” cooled only by ice, and located next to “hot grills.”

Beauparlant’s lawsuit does not indicate if any of her co-workers are also seeking compensation from Marriott in or out of court. She is seeking damages for negligence.

Interestingly, Beauparlant’s lawsuit does not list FelCor Lodging as a co-defendant.

The Vinoy is at 501 5th Ave. NE in St. Petersburg.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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