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Deganwy Action in Liverpool.


Deganwy Action in Liverpool. Sequel to an Epidemic. An action of considerable importance to this part of North Wales, which occupied the atten- tion of Mr. Justice Btay and a special jury at the Civil Court of the Liverpool autumn Assizes, was commenced on Monday. It will be remem- bered by our readers that an epidemic of typhoid fever broke out at Llandudno Junction and the neighbourhood, and one of the places affected was the Woodlands School, Deganwy, the proprietor and headmaster of which was Mr. George Field, who now sought to recover damages from Mrs. Margaret Thomas and John William Hughes, executors under the will of the late Emmanuel Jones, a dairy farmer, oi Marl Farm, for breach of warranty in connec- tion with the milk supply from Marl Farm to the school. The plaintiff suggested that the milk was contaminated and was accountable for the recent outbreaks of fever at the school, which proved fatal in the case of his wife and laid up himself and his little daughter. It was alleged that twenty-four cases of typhoid had occurred in the neighbourhood amongst people who had obtained their milk survply from the farm. Four persons had died during the out- break—Mrs. Field, Mr. Emmanuel Jones, Mr. Richard Conway, and the boy who was em- ployed at Marl Farm. The defendants denied that there was any warranty given, or that there had been any breach committed, and supgested that the infec- tion was carried from Llandudno Junction by the drains. Mr. Horridge,- K.C., M.P., and Mr. Rigby Swift (instructed by Messrs. Field, Sons, and Harrison) were plaintiff's counsel; and the de- fendants were represented by Mr. W. F. K. Taylor, K.C., and Mr. Cuthbert Smith (instruc- ted by Mr J. W. Hughes, solicitor, Conway— agents, Messrs Gradwell, Abercomby & Co.). OLD IDEAS ABANDONED. Mr. Horridge, in opening the plaintiff's case, said that the circumstances in many aspects were extremely sad. Mr. Field, who kept the Woodlands School at Deganwy, was claiming for damages in respect not only of the' death of his wife, but also of the serious illness of him- self and his only child, and injury done to his school—all the result, as he alleged, of their having drunk milk which was infected oy typhoid germs. Substantially the question for the, jury would be whether the milk supplied was contaminated and was responsible for the spread of the disease. But under the Sale of Foods Act the plaintiff would be required to show that he relied on receiving a pure. milk supply, as any purchaser would. It was no answer for the defence to say that they had not been able with reasonable care to discover any typhoid germs in the milk, because in law the 'vendor always sold the article at his own risk. Eminent experts would be called before the jury to tell them what was known by science with regard to typhoid fever. The old idea about drains being the cause of typhoid fever was now practically abandoned. Of course if the specific typhoid baccilus got into a drain the disease would be spread in that way, but ordinary sewer gas did not cause the disease. Water and milk were now recognised to be the most fertile causes. THREE CERTIFICATES. The plaintiff, counsel went on, was an Oxford man, and, after spending some years abroad, he had settled down at Deganwy as a schoolmaster. For a short time prior to 1905 he had run the Woodlands School in partnership with a Mr. Pugb The school had previously been used as a convalescent home for atients from Birming- 'him, and the drainage system of the house was excellent. In 1905, when the plaintiff bougm out his partner, and became the sole proprietor of the school, he was at the pains to secure three certificates of the sanitary condition of the institutionone as. to the drains being in good order; another as to the water supply being good; and a third, given by a local sanitary inspector named Little, as to Marl Farm, from which the milk came, being! properly kept. Be- sides all this, he obtained from Emmanuel Jones, who had himself succumbed to typhoid during the outbreak, a personal assurance that proper precautions were taken to secure the purity of the milk supplied. It was arranged that the school milk should be delivered in two special tins, which were daily cleansed and scalded at the Woodlands. The first case of typhoid to occurr was that of Mrs. Thomas, the housekeeper of Emmanuel Jones. She con- tracted the disease in February, 1909. alftd was taken to the Llandudno Ferver Hospital. She was displeased, for some reason. with the treat- ment she received there, and was, on March. 16th, removed. That date, counsel suggested, was too early for her removal from the hospital. DISEASE IN THE SCHOOL. On April 3rd the first symptoms of the disease were noticed in the school when a boy named Geoffrey Wood showed sigiraes of illness, and was ordered to his bed. There were three scholars who were specially liable to receive any con- tamination there might be in the milk, the boy Wood, already mentioned, and two others named Barlow and Tuxford, who used to drink fresh milk. When infected milk was taken with tea, counsel remarked in passing, it was compara- tively harmless, because the germs ceased to fertilise at a certain degree of heat which was very much less than boiling point. The boy Barlow left the school on March 2ath, and Tux- ford was inoculated on his father's order as soon as he heard about the outbreak. Both Barlow and Tuxford thus escaped the disease. On April 7th two boys named Barron were leaving the school for the Easter holidays, and were each given a glass of fresh milk on their departure, and ten days later they began to be unwell. Mr. Field himself, who used to drink fresh milk atfter his breakfast, and his two-year-old daugh- ter both took ill about this time, and a few days later Mrs. Field, whose case was probably a communicated one, also took to her bed. A boy maimed Tommy Mammatt, the son of some friends who had been visiting the Fields, was another sufferer. On the gth Dr. Woodhouse, who had been attending the boy Wood;, calledl in Dr. Suckling, a typhoid specialist, from Bir- mingham, and as they came to the conclusion that the boy was without doubt suffering from typhoid, be was removed to the hospital. On Easter Sunday, April loth, Dr. Travis, the medical officer, and the sanitary inspector named Little, examined the drains at the house, in connection with which there was an intercep- tion trap, which prevented anything from the sewer getting into the house drains. THE DEATH ROLL. Dr. Woodhouse at this stage warned Field about the milk supply, and an effort was made to obtain milk elsewhere; but this could not be done., probably because people who had heard that there was disease at the school did not care to be mixed up with it in any way. From that day, however, the milk was regularly boiled at the school, and so the spread of infection was prevented. A further examination of the drains revealed the fact that, when the dining-room was added to the old building, the architect's plans had been disregarded in one particular. A drain, which ought to have been disconnected and diverted, was left under the dining-room but as it was beneath 8in. of macadam", 6in. of concrete, and iin. of cement, it could not have caused any harm, even if it had burst. Mrs. Field had to take to her bed on April 17th. Her case was diagnosed as typhoid, and she suc- cumbed about a month later. At the time his wife contracted the disease plaintiff was lying seriously ill; and as her death occurred before his recovery, he never saw her again. There were about twenty-five houses in the neighbour- hood, Mr. Horridge continued, which were sup- plied with milk from the Marl Farm, and in eight of tihe houses typhoid had occurred at this time. One of the houses was a hydro and one an hotel, and it was calculated that there were about 250 persons in the neighbourhood who bad their milk from this farm. uut of this num- ber twenty-four persons, or 10 per cent., had suffered from typhoid. Counsel proceeded to enumerate the various cases which had occurred among the customers. Two of them proved fatal, the victims being Councillor Richard Con- way and a boy who was employed at the farm. Emmanuel Jones himself was taken ill early in May, and died on the Isth. When a typhoid epidemic, said Mr Horridge, originated in the milk supply it was always noticeable that the percentage of children was larger than when it arose from water supply, for the obvious reason that milk was more largely consumed by child- ren than by adults. In dealing with the question of damages coun- sel explained to the jury that Mrs Thomas was not only one of the executors under the will of the late Mr Emmanuel Jones, but had been be- queathed the whole of his personal property, and had a life interest in his real estate. Plain- tiff's losses in connection with the school had been heavy, for he had lost the, whole of the summer term and although for the winter term all the old scholar's had returned, there were no new pupils. Added to. this toss were the medical and nursing expenses and the; expenses of Mrs Field's funeral, making a total of Plaintiff was not entitled to any compeniSta- tioin for the loss of his wife, except on a pecun- iarykbasis, b.ut he was entitled to. recover an amdflnt equal to the actual loss he had suffered by being deprived of her considerable and im- portant services in connection with the manage- ment of the school; and there was a further claim in respect of the pain and suffering he had himself endured. LIKE A HOSPITAL. ir'iamtiif was then called. He bore out counsel s statement g-eneiraiiy as to me outorea.K of typhoid at the scnooi. there were four nurses m .attendance_at the school,, and the place was more like a Hospital than anytnmg else. in connection witn the milk suppiy, piaintifi had cone all he could to' satisiy rmnseli that pioper hygienic precautions were tauten at Marl r arm, ana Mr jones had assured him that he supervised everything hirnsail. jxegardmg Mrs. 1 nomas s removed irom tne nospiiai, piainviit said that her husband had told him that Do-tii he and Mrs. Thomas were disgusted with the treat- ment she had received at tne hospital, and ooin- pi, ained that they thought the charges were very miigh, and that they aid not like the. nurses. 'Ür;at was the reason why they decided that Mrs Thomas should go back home. Incidentally plaintiff mentioned that he had been ieelmg nl tor some time before he took to his bed. Mr. Taylor (cross-examining) Have you ever complained about Victoria-drive, which leads up to your school, being uLiliealthy-i-I have com- plained three times about the road, chieily be- cause it is such a bad road that it is impossible at certain times to walk along it without getting stuck. But have you not complained of its being in- sanitary, and have you not been for some time airaid of some epidemic like this happening?—■ i\o. I have complained of a certain smell I have noticed in Victoria-drive from time to time. Haven't you complained of it as being likely to produce some outbreak of this kind' I think not. What I said was that in case of an out- break of this sort people might, rightly or wrongly, attribute it to the oolndition, of the drive. I L-iaid that in a letter I wrote to the paper. May I take it then that you apprehended such an outbreak?—-No, I didn't apprehend it. PUTTING IT STRONGLY. Mr. Taylor quoted a letter plaintiff had writ- ten to the medical officer, in which he described the nuisance in Victoria-drive as being a menace to the public health. What epidemic," he asked, do you think was likely to arise?" Witness replied that he did not think fevers were caused by bad smells, but he feared that the nuisance might lead to sore throats or some- thing like that. He was trying to put the thing as strongly as he could, because he wanted to stir the Council into action. MEDICAL OFFICER AND THE DRAINS. Dr. Travis, the medical officer, did not take the view that these illnesses were caused by the milk?—Not at first. He had all along taken the view that this farm was properly managed, and that the milk was all right—up to a certain day, if you like?—I think so. The water supply that goes to the farm is pre- cisely the same as goes to the sMool ?-Some of it is, some of it isn't. After Dr. Travis made an examination of the drains on Easter Monday, witness was told that he had tried to make out that they were in a bad condition, and that one pipe across the yard was blocked. On the same occasion he made a complaint about the drain beneath the dining- lioom. Counsel quoted a letter written by Dr. Travis to Mr. Field, the plaintiff's brother, who was ,acting as plaintiff's solicitor. In it he stated that if the drain- which passed under the new wing was leaking it would pollute the soil under the house. The grease trap was choked and in a foul state and open to the outside atmos- phere. All precautions known to sanitary science was taken at Marl Farm, Dr. Travis wrote to prevent infectious disease. A sample of the milk taken on April 13th was examined bacteri- ologica-lly in London without revealing the pre- sence of any bacilli. Mr. Taylor also read a letter written by Mr. Sydney Field, the solicitor, to Dr. Travis on March 14th, in which occurred this passage: You are wilfully shutting your eyes to the obvious origin of the disease-—-viz., the milk sup- plied from Marl Farm." The letter also spoke of the matter as being of the highest importance to plaintiff, and also being of public interest to the district in which Dr. Travis acted as medical officer. The whole case," the letter added, will be laid before the: proper authorities as soon as my brother is strong enough to transact business." On the 8th June Dr. Travis wrote to the plaintiff condoling with him in his irrepar- able loss. Public belalth work," he aid, carries with it very grave responsibilities. At first we were unable to trace the infection which occurred, but subsequent events showed clearly that the contagion was carried to your school in the milk. What were the subsequent events," as far as you know, that had come to this gentleman's knowledge after March 15th?—'He had completed his inquires and formed his conclusions, I sup- pose. Do you know of any events which could have altered his judgment?—Nothing but his own judgment. Excepting the letter which suggested that he would be Drought before the public authorities, do you know of any fact or event which could have added to the material on which he formed his judgment?—No, excepting that his own opinion- changed. Mr. Taylor remarked that the change of views .was rather extraordinary. DEFENCE'S THEORY. 'His Lordship asked what was the cause of the outbreak; according to the defence. Mr. Taylor: Existirnig typhoid cases at Llan- dudno Junction, infection being conveyed through the drains; and also the fact that these sewers discharge into the Conway, quite close to Llandudno Junction. Mr. Horridge: Then you suggest that you can catch it in the air? The cook at the Woodlands denied that the milk cans were ever left near the drain in the yard, and the gardener disposed to having made periodical inspections of the drains and gullies. Thomas Tedmore Thomas, the assistant sur- veyor of Conway, said that wthen a water pres- sure test was applied there were signs of a leak- age in the drain beneath the dining-room, but suggested that it might have been due to the hammering of the pipe. Freeman A. Delamotte, the Borough Surveyor of Conway, in cross-examination, was asked if he had ever suggested as a possible explanation of the cause of the outbreak that rats, had travelled up the sewer from Llandudno to the Woodlands, He replied that he had never ad- vanced that theory, but said there were rats in most sewers, and no doubt they could have travelled in the way suggested. SECOND DAY'S PROCEEDINGS. Segar Owen, architect, of Warrington, saia that the drain beneath the dining-room at the school ought to. have been disconnected when the extension was made, but through the builder's oversight it had been left there. There was no leakage in the pipe, and even, if there had been any contamination of the soil the macadam, concrete, and cement beneath which the pipe was buried would have prevented any injurious effects from arising. UNHAPPY IN HOSPITAL. Miss Williams, the matron of the Llandudno Council Isolation Hospital, said that Mrs. Thomas, the housekeeper at Marl Farm, who was admitted to. the hospital in February, suffer- ing from typhoid fever, was visited daily by Mr Emmanuel Jones, who used to stand about yard away from her bed. As Mrs. Thomas was not happy at the hospital, she was removed on the order of her own doctor. Mr. Horridge: In your judgment, was she quite well when she left? Witness: No, she was extremely weak, and I don't think she was sufficiently recovered to be removed. In reply to his lordship, witness said she thought Mrs. Thomas was suffering from phleb- itis and her heart was weak when she was taken away. His Lordship Otherwise she was fit to be discharged ? Witness As far as I knew. Would there have been any danger of infec- tion from her?—I didn't think so at the time. Have you, thought since that there might be d;a-niger?-Tlh.e,re might be a possibility. Replying to Mr. Taylor, witness said the milk was brought every day from Marl Farm specially for Mrs. Thomas. Sarah Emily Lewis, a nurse at the isolation, hospital, said that two days before Mrs. Thomas was removed from the hospital she overheard a conversation between her and her doctor. Dr. Jones was persuading her to stay until she was better. Mrs. Thomas, however, persisted, said she wanted to go home very badly, and said slie would not remain, any longer. Miss Sharp, the matwilI of the Birmingham Convalescent Home at Deganwy, said that a few days before- his death Emmanuel Jones stopped her in the street, and, pointing to the Wood- lands School, said The trouble over there is killing me." He went on to say how very sorry he felt for the Fields, and he could not sleep at night for thinking of their great trouble. What can I do? he said. I have a certificate." Witness told him not to worry, but he replied that he would sell his cows at an early date and give up the dairy farm. She did not see him again, as he died a few days afterwards. James Percival Barron, one of the pupils at the Woodlands School, said that when h; left the school at Easter for the holidays he had a glass of fresih milk and a cake. Three weeks later he bec.arme ill with typhoid fever at his home in Middlewich. Dr. Melville, Middlewich, who attended the previous witness and his brother, said he saw then on May ist for the first time, and they were then at the end of their first week of the fever. The disease usually showed itself about a fortnight after infection. Evidence was given as to the other cases of typhoid amongst persons who drank1 milk from Marl Fann. Dr. Woodhouse, who attended the typhoid patients at the Woodlands School, gave evidence as to the dates on which the cases occurred. Sir James Barr, who attended the Fields dur- ing the epidemic, produced his notes on the cases, and in regard to Emmanuel Jones, whom he also saw, said there was no doubt that he was suffering from typhoid. Mr. Horridge: There is an old idea that typhoid fever arose from drains ?—That has been exploded long ago. The nuisance in. Victoria-drive which led up to the school, Sir James said, iiad nothing to do with the outbreak at all. It was utterly impos- sible that the germs came up from the sewer to the school; the suggestion was ridiculous. As to the theory that rats had carried the the in- fection to the house from the sewer along the drains, he did not think they could pass the interception. There were no rats knocking about when I was at the school," he added the -lar-e was in a perfectly sanitary condi. tion. I never saw a cleaner place in my life." Sir James expressed the opinion that none of the cases in the Fields' house was a contact case. Mr. Horridge What are the chief carriers of typhoid?—Milk and water and flies. How long do bacilli live in milk?—Oh, a long time. They live and thrive there. A patient might have perfectly recovered, Six James proceeded, and still be carrying the germs i about. She might carry the iinfection about for months, and'even for years. Mr. Horridge: Is it a proper thing for a man who takes out milk to be living in the same house as a woman who has the infection about her?—He should not come into, cntact with her in any way. T'yiphoid germs, Sir James further stated, could only be communicated by contact or by car- riage. They did not fly about. WEDNESDAY. Yesterday (Wednesday) further evidence was given by Sir James Barr and Dr. Meredith Young, medical officer for Cheshire county, after which the Court rose until to-dav (Thurs- day), when the defence will be opened. Im

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