Jury to rule in Salmonella wedding case

An inquest into the death of a Jewish woman, who allegedly contracted salmonella at a kosher wedding, will also investigate concerns over her hospital treatment.

Last Friday at a pre-inquest hearing, Manchester's coroner confirmed that a jury will be required to decide how and why 82-year-old Rene Kwartz, from Crumpsall, died at North Manchester General Hospital last August.

She was the only person to die among ten guests who contracted a rare form of salmonella bacteria, following a wedding in Prestwich.

The hearing, attended by Mrs Kwartz's son and daughter, heard that the doctor treating their mother had failed to report the death as unnatural. Manchester coroner Nigel Meadows said he was seeking a full doctor's report and medical records.

The family's lawyer, Catherine Brown, told the coroner that there was a connection between Mrs Kwartz's death and her attendance at the wedding, but added: "The family also have concerns about the hospital treatment Mrs Kwartz received."

It was said that the fears were raised by Mrs Kwartz's son, Jeff, who is a consultant ophthalmic surgeon.

Following the wedding, 30 guests who claimed illness filed a legal action against the celebration's kosher caterers, Shefa Mehadrin. It is thought the incident might have been connected to a freak national outbreak of the bacteria in bean sprouts, which were served at the wedding meal.

But Friday's hearing also heard that health and safety inspectors who investigated Shefa Mehadrin had "failed to demonstrate a connection" between the preparation of bean sprouts by the company and the outbreak, and so far have taken no action against the caterer.

Shefa Mehadrin's lawyer, Mike Atkins, told the coroner: "It is possible that some of the ill guests didn't eat the bean sprouts themselves."

Mr Meadows said the inquest would investigate a causal link between the death and the wedding celebrations, but would also investigate whether Mrs Kwartz had been "appropriately treated" in hospital.

"If there are issues arising out of the care Mrs Kwartz received, it is perfectly proper to investigate those concerns. I invite the hospital to address them," he said.

No representative from North Manchester General Hospital was present.

The full inquest hearing is due to take place in the autumn, pending the results of a national study by the Health Protection Agency into the countywide salmonella outbreak.

Last updated: 12:14pm, June 2 2011