Cleveland County Fair E. coli cases settled and dismissed

All the lawsuits stemming from the 2012 E. coli outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair that resulted in a toddler’s death have been resolved and dismissed from Superior Court in Gaston County, fair association attorney O. Max Gardner III said.

The outbreak resulted in 106 E. coli cases. Seven civil suits were filed by families. Gardner said the dismissed cases also included a lawsuit filed against a Tennessee-based petting zoo.

Terms of the settlement were sealed and confidential, Gardner said.

State and local health officials said the petting zoo at the fair was the focal point of the E. coli outbreak.

A Cleveland County Fair study commission began looking at ways to make the fair safer.

The petting zoo was missing from last year’s fair, and there were no animal-contact exhibits. There was more signage and fencing and clear separation of animal exhibit areas and non-animal areas.

The Cleveland County Health Department had a strong presence during the fair’s 11-day run last fall. Working with the Health Department staff were volunteers from nursing schools at Gardner-Webb University and Cleveland Community College.