If you or your family member was sickened with Legionnaires’ disease, you need the help of an experienced pathogen (germ-disease) lawyer who knows how to conduct an independent investigation that will lay the foundation for a lawsuit against the company whose contaminated water caused the illness.
Important Legionnaires’ Disease Information
Through our work representing Legionnaires’ disease clients over the last 40 years, we have seen first-hand the toll it takes on victims and families. And, while the settings where they occurred vary – a hotel, a hospital, a nursing home, a hot tub; one thing all of our cases have had in common is that they were preventable.
Water management plans can prevent the overgrowth of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. These plans are considered an industry standard for large buildings and products such as hot tubs and cooling towers that aerosolize water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When these plans are not in place, or are not followed correctly, this negligence can lead to people being exposed to very dangerous aerosolized legionella bacteria.
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What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease (LD), also called legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia, is a severe and sometimes fatal form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. A less severe infection caused by the same type of bacteria is called Pontiac Fever.
Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment and grow best in warm water. They are often found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, the plumbing systems of large buildings and decorative fountains.
People get LD when they breathe in a mist or vapor containing the bacteria. The incubation period, or period of time from exposure to the bacteria to the onset of symptoms, is 2-14 days. Symptoms of an infection include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches.
Many people, but especially those older than 50, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease, and people with a weak immune system, require hospitalization. About 10 percent of LD cases are fatal.
Legionella Pneumonia Complications
LD, also referred to as Legionella pneumonia, has several life-threatening complications, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Respiratory failure. Once a patient develops respiratory failure, the odds of recovering are extremely low. This happens when there is significant damage to the respiratory system, including mechanical changes in the lungs and oxygen loss in the arteries.
- Septic shock. This happens when sepsis (infection travels throughout the body in the blood) progresses to multiple organ failure. It is often fatal.
- Acute kidney failure. When sepsis affects the kidneys, they lose their ability to eliminate excess fluid and waste from the blood. This results in dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulate in the body, which can lead to death.
- Endocarditis. This is an infection of the endocardium, an inner lining of the heart. This can happen when the pneumonia becomes septic. Endocarditis can damage heart valves.
- Pericarditis. This is a swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the membrane around your heart. Again, this can be a result of sepsis. Pericarditis can cause long-term illness.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This is a disease that affects the nervous system and can cause temporary, or in rare cases permanent, paralysis. According to one study,3 this complication may be underdiagnosed.
Every case of severe pneumonia is not tested to see if it is LD. This means there may be hundreds of people a year who are not diagnosed. Our lawyers would like to see a stronger recommendation from the CDC that all cases of pneumonia from an unknown source be tested for detection of legionellosis. We also believe both a urinary antigen test AND a culture of respiratory secretion should be done to make sure there is an accurate diagnosis.
Can I File a Legionnaires Disease Lawsuit?
Legionnaires’ Disease cases, like other pathogenic bacteria cases, are complex and scientifically and legally demanding. When looking to file a lawsuit it is important to contact an attorney who has experience handling cases like these and has access to the types of legal and investigative resources needed to pursue them.
6 Steps to Evaluate a Claim
- Contact A Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer After a doctor has confirmed that you have legionellosis through bloodwork and scans or x-rays, contact a Legionnaires’ disease lawyer.
- Confirm the Presence of Legionella Bacteria Once we know you have (LD), the next step is to identify where you got it. This involves figuring out where you were immediately prior to the 2-18 day incubation period.
- Determine if You are Part of an Outbreak If other people sickened with LD were at the same place you were prior to the 2-18 day incubation period, that’s usually strong evidence of an outbreak. A person who is part of an outbreak is considered a “case-patient.” Typical outbreaks involve three types of case-patients: confirmed cases, suspect cases, and Pontiac Fever cases. You do not need to be part of an outbreak to file a lawsuit.
- Review Epidemiologic Investigation Results Confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease need to be reported to local or state health departments which are then supposed to investigate. Part of this process is an epidemiologic investigation. This involves generating hypotheses about possible sources of exposure, questioning people who may have been exposed to or sickened and analyzing the information gathered.
- Review Environmental Investigation Results Once the likely source of the bacteria has been identified, investigators take samples of water from the feature or system and test it for the presence of the bacteria. They also examine the records the facility is supposed to keep regarding maintenance, water quality, cleaning and disinfection. Oftentimes, the environmental investigation reveals a lack of appropriate cleaning and disinfection which resulted in failure to eradicate the bacteria. A finding of Legionella bacteria in the sampled water system or feature, and identification that preventive measures were not taken or performed incorrectly, is convincing proof that the owner of the facility was at fault.
- Review Laboratory Investigation Results It is preferable (but not always possible) to compare legionella isolates from patients with those isolated from water sources. Genetic tests on isolates can identify their “fingerprints.” Matching fingerprints indicate the water was the source of the infection.
Can I Sue For Wrongful Death if a Family Member Died From a Legionella Infection?
Because the legionella bacteria can be extremely dangerous once it has taken up residence in its victim’s lungs, it can sometimes unfortunately lead to death. This is not only emotionally devastating to family members, it can be financially devastating as well. Families deserve compensation, but they also deserve justice and the opportunity to force needed changes so this doesn’t happen again to someone else. If a hotel, hospital or other company is proven to be at fault family members can sue for the wrongful death of a loved one.
Can I Sue a Hotel or Motel for Legionella Pneumonia?
Yes, you can sue a hotel if it can be proven that you were infected while visiting. Many past Legionnaires’ outbreaks have been associated with contaminated hotel water systems. Below are some past outbreaks that were associated with staying at a hotel or motel.
Recent Legionnaires Disease Outbreaks at Hotels and Motels
Two guests at Round Barn Lodge in Spring Green, WI developed Legionnaires’ disease after their stays.
Eleven former guests have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease linked to staying at the Atlanta Sheraton Hotel in June and July of 2019. The Georgia Department of Public Health believes there may be up to 55 additional cases as well.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Christmas Mountain Resort sickened at least three people and killed one.
Minnesota Department of Health investigators announced on February 16th, 2018 that they suspect the spa at the Crookston Inn and Convention Center may have lead to at least four cases of Legionnaires disease. The affected visitors became ill between January 22nd and 27th, 2018. The Department of Health is warning people who visited the hotel between January 14th and February 6th, 2018 that they may have been exposed to Legionnaires.
Two Legionnaires’ disease cases have been associated with the Four Seasons 55+ community in Palm Springs, California. Both people sickened are residents of Four Seasons. The pool areas at Four Seasons were closed in July of 2018 to allow a private company to test the water for the presence of Legionella bacteria, and the bacteria was found in a pool. Four Seasons drained the pool and deep cleaned it.
Five people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ pneumonia after being at The SpringHill Suites on 2960 Hoppe Trail in Round Rock, Texas. Three of the people were guests; one is an employee.
Three cases were associated with staying at the Best Western motel in Hannibal, Missouri, in 2015. According to health officials, Hannibal’s Best Western on the River was the common link in the three confirmed LD cases, all of whom stayed at the hotel at different points over a period of eight months.
The Opera House Hotel cooling tower is the source of the outbreak in the Bronx in 2015, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Over 120 people were sickened, and twelve died.
The Florida Department of Health and the CDC associated an outbreak of LD with the Marriott SpringHill Suites Hotel in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The dates of concern were March 25 and April 24, 2015.
Another outbreak in 2015 was associated with the Super 8 motel in Lacey, Washington, according to Thurston County health officials. There were 3 confirmed cases and one suspected case.
In 2014, 2 people who stayed at Econo Lodge, 145th Street, Ocean City, Maryland, were sickened. Microbiological evidence pointed to the motel’s water system as the source of the outbreak, according to Worcester County health officials.
Two men filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Choice Hotels International, Inc., doing business as Sleep Inn & Suites in Millbrook. The lawsuit alleges that contaminated water at the motel caused the illnesses.
Can I Sue a Hospital for Legionnaires’ Disease?
Yes, you can sue a hospital, including a VA medical center, for Legionnaires’ Disease (LD) if the source of the illness was contaminated water at the facility. These are often large, complex buildings, and finding the source of the illnesses can be time-consuming. You need scientific experts to help you prove your case. You may also have a medical malpractice case if a doctor failed to diagnose the illness and that failure led to severe illness or death. Below is a list of recent LD outbreaks at hospitals and medical centers.
There have been cases of babies contracting this dangerous form of pneumonia from water birth pools used during delivery. You should discuss this issue with your health care professional if you are considering this kind of delivery.
Recent Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks at Hospitals and Medical Centers
Illinois state health officials are investigating three cases of Legionnaires’ disease at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the newly opened Mount Carmel Grove City hospital in Ohio sickened eight people killing one of them.
Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at Alomere Health Hospital in Alexandria, MN have occurred since November 2018. Health officials are working with the hospital to find the source of contamination.
An LD outbreak at Phoebe Richland Health Center in Richlandtown, PA sickened two people, one of whom has died. Bucks County Health Department has taken water samples for testing.
Two people at Spectrum Health’s Pennock Hospital in Hastings, MI have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in recent months. Health officials have found the bacteria that causes the infection in the hospital’s water distribution system.
Fourteen people were sickened and three of them died in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at UW-Madison Hospital in Wisconsin.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus sickened five people. Water fountains and ice makers at the facility were shut down while health officials conducted tests for Legionella bacteria in the water.
One resident at the Veterans’ Home in southwest Fresno was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
Other Recent Legionnaires’ Outbreaks
5 deaths and 17 other people seriously sick with Legionnaires’ have been identified as a related cluster of cases. Most of the cases have occurred among residents or recent visitors to Union County, which is located in the northeastern part of New Jersey.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak linked to a hot tub display at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair held September 6-15, 2019 at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher has sickened dozens of people, killing four of them. As of October 22, 142 illnesses had been reported including 134 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and eight cases of Pontiac Fever. Ninety-five people have been hospitalized, four of them have died. Poorly sanitized hot tubs are a common source of aerosolized legionella bacteria.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Covenant Living’s Windsor Park retirement home in Carol Stream, IL has sickened three people killing two of them
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Balmoral Nursing Home in Chicago sickened two people.
A hot tub display is believed to be the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the East Texas State Fair in Tyler included at least seven confirmed and five probable cases. One person died.
Twelve people have been hospitalized so far in connection with the Legionnaires outbreak at Covenant Living Retirement Home in Batavia (Kane County), Illinois
In Union County, NJ, a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has sickened 22 people killing five of them between March 8, 2019, and May 13, 2019.
Two people are Legacy House senior living community in Taylorsville, UT have Legionnaires’ disease. Water restrictions are in place until health officials can get the problem under control with a water treatment procedure.
A case of Legionnaires’ disease has occurred at St. John’s Lutheran Community in Albert Lea, MN, less than a year after an outbreak that sickened five people.
At least two people were sickened with a severe form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease in an outbreak at the Family YMCA in Waco, Texas.
Health officials used whole genome sequencing (WGS) to see if two Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the same location in Albany, NY are linked.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at an assisted living community, in Albany, NY called Promenade at University Place sickened two people, one of whom has died.
Since September 15, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received six reports of people being diagnosed with LD in Champaign County. State health officials are looking at potential sources of the outbreak. One possible source is First Christian Church of Champaign, where some of the people diagnosed with LD participated in wedding activities, according to IDPH.
For the second time in 2018, a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak has sickened people who visited or live in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. As of October 11, 2018, sixteen people have been sickened, one of whom has died. The first Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Washington Heights in July of this year sickened 18 people, according to NYC health officials, who identified the source of that outbreak as a cooling tower operated by the Sugar Hill development.
Fourteen people were hospitalized in a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in Sioux Falls, SD. One patient has died. The people sickened range in age from 36 to 80 and live in or visited Sioux Falls in the week before getting sick.
A New Hampshire Legionnaires’ disease outbreak investigation is looking at hot tubs at two hotels, the Sands Resort and the Harris Sea Ranch Motel, as potential sources of the legionellosis cases.
An outbreak in New York City, specifically the Washington Heights neighborhood, has sickened 18 people, one of whom died. The people sickened range in age from 40 to 80 years old. The fatality was a person over 50 with underlying health conditions.
Three people working at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, contracted Legionnaires’ disease, campus officials and the Detroit Health Department reported in June of 2018. After an employee was diagnosed in May, the university hired PathCon Laboratories. The company found Legionella in 3 cooling towers and 3 bathrooms in different buildings.
One person died and two others were hospitalized in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Co-op City neighborhood of the Bronx. This is the same neighborhood where an LD outbreak killed 12 people in 2015. City health officials reported in April of 2018 that the cases were people who visited or lived in three connected buildings in the Co-Op City neighborhood within the last 12 months.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Water Oak Country Club in Lady Lake, FL has sickened two people. Health officials say they traced the source of the outbreak to Legionella bacteria in the water in the hot tub at the clubhouse.
Several people have been diagnosed after being in or near a pool or the spa (hot tub) at IslandWalk at the West Villages in North Port, Florida.
9 People at Disneyland in Anaheim before Diagnosed with Legionnaires’
Twelve people who live or visited Anaheim, California, have been diagnosed with LD. Of the 12, 9 were at Disneyland from September 12 to September 27, 2017, before getting sick, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Can a person sue Disneyland for Legionnaires’ disease?
Two L.A. Fitness locations in Orlando and one in Ocoee have been associated with 7 cases of illness. These people became ill from February through May of 2017.
Three people with who visited the L.A. Fitness in Ocoee, Florida, were diagnosed with LD. The health department found that this location was the common exposure.
Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyers
Fred Pritzker and his team of Legionnaires’ disease lawyers help clients get compensation. Our law firm is one of the few in the country that helps clients win cases against hotels, hospitals, office building and warehouse owners, landlords, and others. You can contact our law firm at 1-888-377-8900 for information about a lawsuit. We have represented clients in several states, and we are not paid unless you win.
If your husband, wife, parent or other family member died, your family may have a wrongful death claim and have the right to sue for compensation and justice. We are on the current U.S. News & World Report list of “Best Law Firms.” Contact our law firm.
Our law firm has won multimillion-dollar settlements from large corporations doing business in all 50 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Author: Attorney Fred Pritzker represents clients with personal injury and wrongful death claims nationwide. He has won millions for his clients, including a recent $3,000,000.00 settlement for Legionnaire’s Disease from a Hotel. You can call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or use our free consultation form to contact Fred for your confidential consultation regarding a Legionnaires disease lawsuit. Read client testimonials.
Sources and Additional Information
- Leruste, A., et al. “Successful pediatric ECMO in a rare case of septic shock due to a community-acquired Legionella infection.” Médecine et Maladies Infectieuses (2016).
- Attorney Fred Pritzker wrote the section explaining 6 steps to evaluating a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
- Landau, Daniel, et al. “Guillain-Barre Syndrome After Legionella Pneumonia: Case Report and Literature Review (P1. 308).” Neurology 86.16 Supplement (2016): P1-308.
- Atlanta Legionnaires’ Disease at Grady Memorial Hospital
- Marriott Legionnaires Disease Lawyers
- Legionnaires’ Disease Risk From Water Birth Pools
- Legionnaires’ Disease Wrongful Death