NORFOLK — Russell L. Long sat down for breakfast at a local Denny’s restaurant two years ago and was served, along with his breakfast, a glass of maggot-contaminated milk, according to a $1 million lawsuit that was filed this week in federal court.



The suit doesn’t say whether Long consumed the organisms, but the experience continues to bother him physically and mentally.

Long, the suit says, “has been hampered by not being able to eat at any restaurants and has not been able to enjoy daily family meals as well as special occasions and holiday gatherings involving food and drink.”

Denny’s denies the allegation but says in a cross-claim that if the milk did contain maggots, they must have come from the supplier, Marva Maid.

“It is our intent to vigorously defend ourselves,” said Debbie Atkins, director of public relations at Denny’s corporate headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C. “We’ll let the facts speak for themselves in court.”



ABOVE: Maggots are the larvae of the housefly or blowfly. The tiny wormlike creatures typically feast on decaying organic matter.

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Long, who was living in Virginia Beach at the time, went to the Denny’s at 198 Newtown Road about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1, 2002. He ordered breakfast and a glass of milk.

Denny’s “did then and there carelessly, recklessly, wantonly and negligently serve the plaintiff a glass of milk containing maggots,” the suit says.

It goes on to say that Denny’s “failed to maintain a clean and safe milk dispenser free of maggots and other organisms.”

Long says in the suit that he has lost weight and “has sustained a mental disorder.” He also says that he suffered poor academic performance in college as a result.

Maggots are the larvae of the housefly or blowfly. The tiny whitish or yellowish wormlike creatures typically feast on decaying organic matter.

The suit does not explain how maggots could have gotten into an enclosed container of milk. The Denny’s kitchen serves milk from a soda-fountain like dispenser.

The maggot incident was just one in a series of problems, the suit claims. That particular Denny’s has a pattern “of serving its patrons food and drink containing maggots and organisms,” the suit says.

It notes that Virginia Beach Department of Public Health restaurant-inspection reports show continuing violations, but it does not provide specifics.

In inspection reports obtained by The Virginian-Pilot, the Denny’s on Newtown Road has had repeated and critical violations dating to early 2003. Among the critical reports is a repeat violation for having open drinking containers and keeping eggs and cream at unsafe temperatures. In five inspections since January 2003, the Newtown Road Denny’s has had 77 health violations. Each was corrected at the time of the visit, but several recurred on subsequent inspections.

Frank Scanlon, environmental health manager for Virginia Beach, said that particular Denny’s has not had any suspensions or revocations of its health permit. In papers filed by Denny’s, the company says that if the maggot incident did occur, Long should share some responsibility.

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