Couple Sues Caterer Over Food-Poisoned Wedding From Hell [UPDATED]

Update, April 24, 2019: A New York State judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed by the father of a bride whose wedding went off the rails when dozens of guests suffered severe poisoning at the reception. Anyone who ate the mac-and-cheese and became ill is considered party to the class-action suit, reports.

Original story, July 13, 2018: Some couples sweat every detail of their wedding, worried something will go wrong: their chairs won't be delivered on time; the flower girl will cry; or 100 of their guests will get violently ill with food poisoning at the reception and 22 will require hospitalization. Something like that.

The latter nightmarish scenario is exactly what played out at the 2015 wedding of New York state couple Jesse Abbott and Melissa Conarton, according to ABC-13. The bride and groom have now filed suit against their wedding's caterer, alleging the reception's mac 'n' cheese was to blame for the sudden onset of severe food poisoning. Symptoms began immediately at the reception, taking place at the Arrowhead Lodge in the Oneida Shores Park, where a "red tarp was designated as the triage for their most dire guests." Nine ambulances were dispatched to transport the 22 sickest guests to the hospital.

The local health department confirmed all patients tested positive for staph, a bacterium that is not itself harmful but which can produce toxins that cause food poisoning. The Centers For Disease Control says staph can be passed from a person to food if that person doesn't wash their hands; it is also present in unpasteurized milk and cheeses. Food contaminated with staph doesn't look or smell off.

"It's so difficult to see not only your friends and closest family, but when you see young children, too, going through this experience. It was terrible," Jesse Abbott told ABC-13.

According to, lawyers for the caterer, Holy Smoke BBQ and Catering of Earlville, New York, declined to comment on the pending litigation. The couple is seeking reimbursement for their guests' hospital bills so that no one has to "incur debt from their reception." If this had been my reception and the caterer was indeed to blame, I'd be suing for a whole new wedding.